EIGHT young people have been referred for treatment for computer addiction in the first half of this year at a Cork centre for young people with addiction issues.
The eight, aged 14-23, are among 87 young people seen at the Matt Talbot Adolescent Services, and Chief Executive Patrick Relihan said: “Computer addiction is not a trend we had noted previously.”
Sufferers typically presented with another addiction concern and their computer reliance emerged as part of that. Addiction to gaming, including the popular Fortnite, and to social media are among the main characteristics of addiction to computer use.
The trend emerged just weeks after the World Health Organisation recognised gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.
The WHO said: “For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”
Mr Relihan said the abuse of solvents, such as aerosols and glues, is another emerging trend, and the number of clients using stimulants including cocaine and ecstasy is six-fold the amount in 2016. Alcohol is the main drug being used by those referred to the services — 36% of clients in the first half of the year said it was their main drug of choice.