Do you find yourself aimlessly surfing the Internet 24/7? Know what? You may be addicted. But if you are, the Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, Washington is just the thing for you.
The recently opened center claims to be the first U.S. in-patient center to treat video game, texting, and of course, Internet addiction. Enrollment in the clinic’s 45-day Internet addiction recovery program, called reStart, costs roughly $14,500.
LiveScience.com reports the program is designed to wean patients off the Internet by combining traditional talk therapy with social skills training, such as lessons in conversation techniques and dating. Patients also feed goats, raise chickens and do home-maintenance work as a way of getting reoriented with the offline world.
The clinic’s first patient is a 19-year-old boy from Iowa who admitted to being hooked on the online game World of Warcraft. While it may seem like an extreme (not to mention pricey) way to get unplugged, Stuart Fischoff, a psychologist and Senior Editor at the Journal of Media Psychology, believes the rehab approach can be helpful.
“For patients in clinical settings, exposing them to friendly animals has had very positive effects,” said Fischoff, who is not affiliated with the new clinic. “The purpose here is to get the patient to experience gratification from something that doesn’t require an Internet connection.
So giving the patient someone who needs them, appreciates them and doesn’t judge them allows them to reach out to the flesh-and-blood world.”
The program’s Web site cites research that suggests “anywhere from 6 and 10 percent of the online population is dependent on one or more aspects of cyber technology and the Internet.”
However, the emerging notion of “Internet addiction” remains controversial. The term has yet to be recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a disorder and is not listed in the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
But some experts have lobbied for its inclusion in the manual’s upcoming revision, due out in 2012. (We’d go out on a limb and state most of the Internet addicts are addicted to porn … not like we’d know about that.
Go Vanessa Blue, Go! Ahem, like we were saying …)