US opens first internet addiction centre

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US opens first internet addiction centre

12-step meetings to get people offline.

A doctor and social worker have set up the first centre in the US to treat people suffering from internet addiction.

The reStart: Internet Addiction Recovery Program will be run in a centre near Redmond, home of Microsoft, and offers a 45-day course in weaning people off their addiction to computers.

"Current research suggests that anywhere from six to 10 per cent of the online population is dependent on one or more aspects of cyber technology and the internet," said the centre in a statement.

"Both China and South Korea have designated internet addiction as their number one public health danger, and have responded by developing multiple treatment programmes.

"The US, by contrast, has been slower to recognise and respond to the problem, but now is beginning to take some active steps. This programme is part of that process."

Treatment is not cheap. The full course costs US$14,500 ($17,350) for 45 days, and there is a US$200 application fee and US$800 interview fee before people can be admitted. Staying at the centre longer than 45 days costs US$9,300 a month.

The centre has already taken in its first customer, a 19-year old male who claims to be addicted to World of Warcraft.

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