Can’t stop gaming? Head to Amsterdam

A detox clinic for addicted gamers is opening in the Netherlands.

Courtesy of Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants in Amsterdam, gamers who can’t peel away from the screen will be able to take part in a four to eight-week program, which involve talking to therapists and “efforts to build patients’ interests in alternative activities.” The program is set to start in July.

The story features 28-year-old Hyke van der Heijden, who originally came to the clinic for drug addiction.

His chunk of the story is troubling:

Hyke van der Heijden, 28, a graduate of the Amsterdam program, started playing video games 20 years ago. By the time he was in college he was gaming about 14 hours a day and using drugs to play longer.

“For me, one joint would never be enough, or five minutes of gaming would never be enough,” he said. “I would just keep going until I crashed out.”

Van der Heijden first went to Smith & Jones for drug addiction in October 2005, but realized the gaming was the real problem. Since undergoing treatment, he has distanced himself from his smoking and gaming friends. He says he has been drug- and game-free for eight months.

What really bothers me about that part of the story is that it casually links drug use and game use, as if they’re one and the same. There’s the reference to his “smoking and gaming friends” as well as the fact that he’s been “drug and game-free” for eight months. There’s another addict, Tim, who also played a lot of games, then USED DRUGS to keep playing longer.

I’m no doctor, but the last time I checked, smoking and drugs generally fill your body with poison. That’s fact. Gaming doesn’t do that — unless you count some of the extra pounds you gain if you’re sitting at home for 17 hours a day and eat a lot.

I’ll admit that gaming can certainly be addictive, but to just lump them in with drug use reeks of carelessless, and anybody who reads this story that doesn’t fully know the industry is going to buy it.

Let’s make one thing clear: Game addict does NOT equal drug addict.

I did a story on gaming addiction a couple of years ago, where I wrote about two guys who were hardcore EQ players. All they did was play and play, eventually shutting out the outside world to the point where other aspects of their lives suffered. One killed himself. The other didn’t.

And as far as I know, neither of them touched drugs.

My biggest worry is that some parents are going to see this story and think “My kid likes to play games — good God, he might be on drugs!”

Yeah, it sounds silly. But there are plenty of silly people out there.