In Canada, clinicians at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have launched the nation’s first holistic clinic specifically designed to treat adolescents addicted to gambling, the Internet and video games.
The Adolescent Clinical Education Service (ACES) seeks to propel youth addiction treatment into the 21st Century by acknowledging that video games and the Internet can be just another escape route for young people battling mental health issues such as social anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.
'We started getting tons of calls from parents complaining about Internet use and we got tired of saying 'Oh, we don't deal with that',” Bruce Ballon, Clinical Head for ACES, told the Toronto Globe and Mail last week.
'Instead, we said 'Let's deal with it' because it's just another manifestation or coping mechanism or strategy to deal with other issues.'
Ballon is a child psychiatrist and will work alongside Joanna Henderson, a psychologist and researcher, seeing up to eight patients on a regular basis. All those being treated will be between the ages of 16 and 24 but Ballon stated that there are plans to drop the age for referrals to 14 as he has seen addictions to gambling starting even at this tender age.
'Technology has hit us like a bomb,” said Cris Rowen, a paediatric occupational therapist and sensory specialist told the newspaper.
“The rapidity with which technology is advancing, we can't even describe it from a research perspective. Children are disconnecting from themselves, from others, from nature and that disconnect is resulting in what I can only describe as the perfect storm.'