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Chinese game addicts seek help in progressive Internet addiction centers

James Egan

As the Chinese race ahead to catch up with the West, they do so with the intent of creating better lives for themselves. The past several years have been characterized by rapid progression, but all those perks of modernization come with a price, which some of China's citizens are beginning to pay.

As incomes rise, so does the prevalence of the various maladies of modernization we've come to know well -- not limited to obesity, substance abuse, and addiction. While an addiction to a substance has a physiological aspect to it and is rarely disputed as a true addiction, non-material addictions to work, sex, and even shopping are on the rise in China. Such issues have been difficult to officially label as actual mental illnesses in the country. Others, like Internet addiction, have only recently been classified as such in China.

Given how quickly the Chinese have embraced what the net has to offer, Internet addiction is a growing problem for the country's 290 million (+) web users. Jonathan Adams from the Christian Science Monitor reports on the existence of a military-style treatment center outside of Beijing, where addicted gamers can find help. The center was opened by Chinese psychologist Tao Ran in 2004, years before Internet addiction was officially classified in China. "The center is on the cutting edge of Chinese society, in which seeking help for mental illness, family problems, or addiction has traditionally been rejected a shameful loss of face," Adams writes. Clearly, there's a need in China for such treatment centers, as it's seen a nationwide expansion into 300 other centers since its inception in 2004.

Adams' "In an increasingly wired China, rehab for Internet addicts" is a candid look at a growing issue for Chinese netizens, but above all, the piece gives us a glimpse into the minds of the patients themselves and their reasons for seeking help.

[Via Kotaku]

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