Rehab Center For Internet Addicts Opens; More Fun Than Its Chinese Counterparts

For anyone who's had trouble shutting off his computer, who keeps saying she just needs to hit the Stumble bar "just one more time," who needs to fight just one more battle in World of Warcraft, there's a spot in Washington state to unwind and get away from it all.

reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program is on five acres in rural Washington and just got its first live-in patient, a 19-year-old WoW addict.

"We are not anti-technology," reStart psychotherapist Hilarie Cash told AFP. "It is about helping people addicted to technology get through the withdrawal and help their brains get wired back to normal and connected to the world in a positive way."

This wouldn't be the world's first rehab for those addicted to the Internet.

That distinction appears to belong to China, where things are a bit more hardcore, it seems. Whereas the teen in Washington is bottle-feeding baby goats, the teens in China's Internet addiction boot camp sometimes suffer "physical punishment," one camp's founder told the BBC. That camp has since been closed and the owner arrested. He admitted that children at the camp are sometimes beaten after a 14-year-old boy suffered serious injuries. And earlier this month, a 15-year-old was beaten to death at another, similar boot camp.

reStart just cuts the addicts off from all technology during their time in the program and aims to teach them how to interact with people again. Many Internet addicts are lacking in social skills, its founders said:

The reStart rehab program includes teaching skills such as starting conversations and reading body language.
Videogame addicts typically need to be reprogrammed to be conscientious about everyday tasks such as bathing, cooking, and household chores, according to reStart. They also need tutoring when it comes to dating.

The program has beds for six patients and a  45-day stay costs $14,500 dollars plus incidentals. There's also an outpatient program for 18- to 28-year-olds, specifically those who have basically spent most of their time online looking at porn. Many of them have had little or no exposure to sex in real life.

If you're not sure if you're addicted to the 'net, there are many resources to help you determine that. Psych Central has this guide, though it was last revised in 2005, so it might not include Twitter. The Center for Internet Addiction has this 20-question test, though given that they're trying to get clients, we can't vouch for its reliability (though it looks pretty basic, such as "How often do you find yourself saying "just a few more minutes" when on-line?").