The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Messaging is the latest addiction

London, Oct. 6: It is the latest addiction sending sufferers rushing to the clinic: compulsive text messaging.

The Priory in southwest London — the drying-out and detox clinic preferred by the rich and famous — says it is treating a growing number of people who cannot stop sending text messages on their mobile phones.

Dr Mark Collins, the head of the addictions unit at the Priory in Roehampton — better known for helping people with drink, drugs, sex and gambling problems — said: “We’ve really noticed it in the past 18 months. There has been a big rise in the number of behavioural addictions, and many involve texting.”

Dr Collins said that some of his patients were spending up to seven hours a day texting. One had developed repetitive strain injury because he spent so much time keying in phone messages.

Compulsive texting was part of a wider trend of “addiction to technology”, Dr Collins said. “We have a situation where some people look down on alcoholics and cocaine addicts, but then go and spend five hours in an Internet chatroom.” Dr Mark Berelowitz, a consultant child psychiatrist at the Royal Free Hospital in London, warned that it was important not to exaggerate the seriousness of the compulsions.

“It would be wrong to say that children are completely addicted or in thrall to these things,” he said. “We risk trivialising such things as addiction to heroin, which are real addictions.”

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