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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Text addiction leaves thumbs numb
Text messaging
Compulsive texting can have mental and physical effects
People who feel moody, irritable and unwell when separated from their mobile phone may need to consider checking into The Priory for treatment.

The Roehampton clinic - most famous for de-toxing alcohol and drug addicted celebrities - has this week reported a rise in addictions to text messaging.

This latest phenomenon forms part of a wider increase in the number of 'behavioural' addictions affecting people in the UK.

Head of The Priory's addiction unit, Dr Mark Collins, said some clients were texting for up to seven hours a day.

One had developed repetitive strain injury due to constant messaging.


Dr Collins said there had been a noticeable rise in these kinds of addictions, many involving text messaging, in the last 18 months.

Others included addictions to sex, shopping and spread betting.

The clinic has a dedicated section on technology addictions on its website, which says there is a growing belief that a number of behaviours can be potentially addictive.

The essence of addictions has altered dramatically in the Noughties
Priory clinic

Surfing the web, playing computer games and using mobile phones are collectively becoming known as 'contact addiction'.

Doctors there believe the root of the problem, as with many addictions, is the desire to escape from emotional difficulties such as depression, stress or anxiety.

Symptoms include a compulsion to text, or go online, taking precedence over everything else, and feeling moody and irritable when unable to feed the compulsion.

Sleep deprivation, eye strain and increased agitation are also found in sufferers.


Following the increase in behavioural addictions the clinic is launching a new treatment programme that will tailor treatment to individuals and their lifestyles.

"The essence of addictions has altered dramatically in the Noughties," said a spokesperson for the clinic.

It will no longer be compulsory for patients to check in for 28 days and 'out' themselves to friends and work colleagues.

Busy addicts may prefer to be treated as a day or out-patient, or to seek help outside of normal working hours, said the Priory.

One father told child safety and parenting group Childalert that he had discovered his 16-year-old daughter was spending 20 a week plus all her school dinner money on texting her friends.

"She hasn't had a meal in school for the past three months and worst of all considers no other activity or hobby worthy of her pocket money," he told their website.

The group publishes a safety guide on mobile phone use for children.

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