You’ve noticed them—people who truly cannot detach psychologically and behaviorally from the worlds of online gaming or social networking. Or perhaps you are one of these people. In any case, these compulsive types now have a way out; the first Internet addiction detox center in the U.S. has opened in Fall City, Wash., just a few miles from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond.
For $14,500—WiFi not included—an addict can spend 45 Internet-abstinent days at the Heavensfield Retreat Center and, hopefully, emerge into the real world free of an obsession with Facebook, online gambling or even text messaging. (A stay at Heavensfield is not covered by insurance, but some scholarships are available.)
The retreat’s founders think that Internet addiction is a serious problem, affecting between 6 and 10 percent of the online population. But how do you know if you are an addict? A list of 12 “signs and symptoms” appears on the new reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program’s Web page—from a “heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities” to “being dishonest with others” and “physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, [and] carpal tunnel syndrome.” According to the site, three or four “yes” responses suggests possible abuse; five or more point to addiction.
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