Game Addiction Expert Explains Rehab Process

Interview with Cosette Rae of reSTART

by Annette Gonzalez, Game Informer Magazine

April 07, 2010

Back in July a detox center opened its doors to adults suffering from video game addiction in order help them overcome dependence on gaming, find a healthy balance, and reconnect with the world. The reSTART: Internet Addiction Recovery Program is the first of its kind in the United States. Co-founders Cosette Dawna Rae, MSW, and Hilarie Cash, PhD, had worked with adults in the past who exhibited signs of gaming addiction that were unresponsive to outpatient treatment. With no other resources available they decided to create a 45-day residential stay program tailored toward technology addiction that could offer the services they need.

The reSTART program has received nearly 100 applicants from all over the world – mostly male – since the program’s inception, with the majority of gaming addictions cited as related to World of Warcraft and first-person shooters on Xbox Live. Services are offered just 13 miles from Microsoft’s headquarters in Washington. Patients under the age of 18 are seen on an outpatient basis, while adults 18 and older can participate in the residential program. Now that reSTART has been open for several months, we reached out to Rae to discuss the current state of the program, video game addiction, the process of gaming rehab, and more.

Read the full interview at

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Internet addiction: Biggest social problem of 21st century?

A Simulated Life

by Ellen Mauro

March 26, 2010

Kramer Solinsky wakes up to a pretty cool world every morning.

One of the first things he does when he hops out of bed is pick out his weapon.

His favorite is the traditional sword and shield. Sometimes, when he’s feeling a little unconventional, he’ll go for a giant spear instead.

His attire is a tad medieval. He often opts for head-to-toe body armour because it offers the most protection – just in case.

A quick thrust of his sword and another one bites the dust.

“It’s a good feeling when you kill one,” he says.

But all Solinsky is killing is time.

According to Dr. David Greenfield, author of Virtual Addiction and director of the Centre for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Solinsky has a classic case of web addiction.

He lives for hours a day as a sword-wielding, dungeon-roaming, monster-vanquishing rock star, taking time away from family, skipping out on friends and losing marks on school work to live in his world of monsters and villains, dungeons and heroes – the fake, online world that he wakes up in and goes to sleep with.

“I would rather be playing online than anything else,” he says. “I’m not addicted or anything though.”

This article was previously posted at Centeretown News; now archived

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Video games are very sophisticated now about behavioral principles

Friday, March 19, 2010

Video game addiction a growing a issue, being treated by new in-patient clinic

by Casey Phillips

To many video game enthusiasts, popular titles such as "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty" offer a chance to escape ordinary life for a more glamorous, heroic existence.

The trouble starts when these virtual worlds crowd out the real one, said psychiatrist Hilarie Cash.

"The people who are developing video games are very sophisticated now about behavioral principles," Dr. Cash said. "... For them, it's good business to create a highly addictive game."

Dr. Cash has been treating video game addiction for 15 years, working mostly with people hooked on massively popular multiplayer online role playing games such as "Everquest" and "World of Warcraft."

Read the full article at Chattanooga Times

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The digital disconect by Tyrone Beason

The digital disconnect: In relentless pursuit of 'connecting,' we miss out on each other

By Tyrone Beason

While communication and gaming gadgets have connected us in ways never before possible, yet they may also be profoundly hurting our ability to be social, emphatic and involved with each other. The signs are everywhere — from the near collisions on city streets where drivers are too busy texting to pay attention to the virtual relationships on Facebook and the addiction to video games.

By the time people reach the forested Internet addiction recovery center outside of Fall City known as reStart, the time for preemptive action has long since passed.

This is where counselors Hilarie Cash and Cosette Rae treat clients who are holed up in their Internet bubbles, sometimes after losing partners, jobs and homes because of their problem. ReStart, which opened in August, is the first rehab center in the nation aimed solely at helping a new category of addict that researchers are still working to understand. By February, eight people had completed the program.

What's not new, perhaps, is the reason people come to depend on their virtual tools and worlds. "I think what we do is seek emotional satisfaction through texting or the Internet," says Cash, who became intrigued by the Internet obsession in the mid-1990s after meeting her first video-game addict. The problem is "it's like satisfying hunger by eating sugar."

It becomes a vicious spiral...


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Game developers use intermittent reinforcement

March 8, 2010

Is there such a thing as internet addiction?

Can the internet be as addictive as drugs or alcohol, and should online games addicts be treated in the same way?

Smallwood, who doesn’t need convincing, interprets addiction as being “any substance or process that is continued despite increasing negative consequences. Addicts always do it more and more,” he says. “So a child plays internet games for two hours a day, then four hours, then eight ... I’ve had people doing 11 hours on it, but I don’t blame World of Warcraft — if someone is an addict, they are an addict.”

However, some people believe that software companies should take partial responsibility. Hilarie Cash, a mental health counselor in America who runs reSTART, a treatment clinic for internet addiction, believes that games makers deliberately give their products an “addictive quality”. Many, she says, use the principle of intermittent reinforcement — “you have to be rewarded often enough to stay engaged but not so predictably that you get bored” — in the same way that fruit machines are designed to pay out to gamblers at certain intervals, to make the games more attractive. “Game-making companies hire psychologists to help them to design the right intermittent reinforcement schedule, but there is little effort on the part of these companies to put out warnings.”

Elizabeth Woolley believes that the suicide of her son Shawn in 2001 was the result of his video game use.

UPDATE 2016: This article is no longer available at The Times.

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