Internet addiction: first media outpatient clinic in Bochum

First aid for internet addiction: First NRW special clinic opened in Bochum

More and more people are affected by a new addiction: internet addiction. The first outpatient clinic for internet addiction has opened since Monday of this week. Patients who show symptoms of addiction through online games, cybersex or social networks such as Facebook can contact the special clinic of the North Rhine-Westphalian university clinic for psychotherapeutic diseases. The new special clinic in Bochum has been open for months.

Katrin W. from Berlin says of herself that she is addicted. "I can think of nothing more than cybersex with strange men." The person affected can hardly carry out important tasks such as transfers, professional life or social contacts. "I can't get out of the situation myself," she says. Since her husband broke up with her, Katrin W. has fallen into a deep emotional low. “In the beginning, cybersex helped me to feel like a full-fledged woman again”. At some point, however, nothing else was important. "The desire for more could hardly be satisfied to feel good."

First ambulance for internet addicts
According to a study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Health, around 560,000 people in Germany suffer from internet addiction. As with other addictions, those affected neglect real emotional relationships, skip school or rarely go to work. The new media outpatient clinic at the Bochum Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Clinic is the first clinic in North Rhine-Westphalia to offer internet addicts a first point of contact. "Nevertheless, help for those affected in the Ruhr area is still rare," complains the head of the ambulance, Dr. med. Bert te Wildt, specialist in psychiatry, psychotherapy and addiction medicine. There are still very few similar institutions in Germany that have taken on this specialty. Accordingly, there are clinics in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Hanover. Too few if around half a million children, adolescents and adults are affected across Germany.
The clinic offers regular consultation hours and group therapy offers. The psychiatrist and addiction expert explained during the presentation of the new therapeutic outpatient clinic that the sufferers should experience "ways beyond the virtual world in a fulfilled life in concrete reality". Among other things, the therapy aims to erase the stimulus. A situation is deliberately created that provokes internet addiction. At such moments, patients learn to resist the urge to become addicted. The situations are created until the urge finally subsides.

Internet addiction is not recognized as a behavioral addiction
Internet dependency has so far not been recognized as a behavioral addiction by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an independent clinical picture. Numerous doctors and therapists have been pushing for recognition for a long time. Computer role-playing games, in which thousands of people participate in online networks, can be particularly addictive. This has now been scientifically proven, reports the expert. Te Wildt assumes that the number of patients will increase significantly in the future. "In research, treatment and diagnostics, we have to prepare for the fact that the number of internet addicts is increasing."

When do psychiatrists speak of an internet addiction?
The definition of when there is an addiction is not always easy, especially for behavioral addictions. Anyone who likes to spend a lot of time on the computer is not yet addicted. However, if you can no longer control the behavior yourself and feel severe deficiency symptoms such as inner restlessness or aggression because of other tasks such as school or work, you could suffer from addiction. Usually outsiders point to the addictive behavior. If the partner or friends criticize the excessive media consumption, there could also be first warning signs of a dependency. (sb)

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