Chinese Boot Camps Treat Internet Addicts: Photos
For a growing number of people the Internet is an obsession. Heavy Internet users suffer changes in brain function, studies show, similar to those observed in drug abusers. Other research has shown that the withdrawal symptoms can be similar too. In China, bootcamp-style rehab clinics have started to open up to help addicts conquer their problem. Tao Ran, a psychiatrist and military colonel who runs the Daxing Boot Camp in Beijing, has noticed the similarities between his patients and drug addicts first hand: “It destroys relationships and deteriorates the body without the person knowing. All of them have eyesight and back problems and suffer from eating disorders.”
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When patients arrive at Daxing Boot Camp, it’s rarely of their own accord. Most have been forced to come here by their parents.VIDEO: Are We All Internet Addicts?
The kids are put on a diet and exercise regimen, and of course a no-Internet policy is strictly enforced.VIDEO: Is The Internet Really Ruining Your Attention Span?
Parents believe the military-style drills mixed with family therapy sessions at boot camps like Daxing can help their kids transform their lives.Is Your Facebook Habit Becoming Dependence?
While more and more boot camps are opening around the country to meet the demand, not all are set up like Daxing. Recent reports have shed light on the physical abuse of patients in some centers, and others have even resorted to using electroshock therapy to treat addicts. Some argue that it’s proof that standardized treatment and care needs to be developed to tackle the growing problem. That might be a long way off, as Internet addiction still isn’t fully recognized by many clinicians and psychiatric organizations.VIDEO: Why Candy Crush Is So Addictive
For the patients at Daxing on the road to recovery, the addiction feels very real and the fear of reentering a world with the Internet can be daunting. As one boy who extended his stay said, “I am afraid to go back to a normal life ... I fear I will become addicted again. That is why I have asked to stay longer, until I develop enough confidence to deal with life.”Is Internet Rehab A Real Need?