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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Treatment for text message addict
Boy texting on mobile phone - generic
It is thought to be the first case of text addiction in Scotland
A teenager is being treated for text messaging and e-mail addiction in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Scotland.

The 19-year-old from Paisley, who did not want to be identified, said texting was like "a game of ping-pong".

In the space of a year, 'Steven' spent 4,500 on text messaging.

He was sending about 700 texts a week and resigned from his job after bosses found out he had sent 8,000 e-mails in one month.

Realising there was a problem the public sector union Unison referred him to a counselling service where he is still being treated.

Counsellors at the Renfrewshire Council on Alcohol (RCA) Trust in Paisley said they have never seen anything like it in 25 years of treating addictions.

When you look at your mobile and you've got a message you wonder who it could be

Steven said the majority of his e-mails were between him and his girlfriend, from whom he has since split up.

The problem came to light when one of his e-mails intended for his girlfriend was accidentally sent to work colleagues.

He said bosses at work confronted him with statistics showing the number of e-mails he had sent and demanded an explanation.

The teenager resigned from his job rather than face disciplinary procedures.

'Comforting texts'

Steven said there was something comforting about receiving text messages on his mobile phone and there was always an element of curiosity when he received a message.

He told BBC Scotland: "When you look at your mobile and you've got a message you wonder who it could be.

"It's kind of comforting when you get one. I like it, it's like a game of ping-pong, as you send one and get one back.

"There are quite a lot of people I know who text a lot and they don't really know that help is available, or they might not see it as a problem."

Philip Irvine, of the RCA, said: "We have never come across it before and I've been working in this field for 10 years.

"On any one day, he was sending about 300 e-mails to his girlfriend. He was texting her every day and probably spending 20 to 30 a week on texts."

Philip Irvine
He is spending no more than 10 a week on texts, which is the goal we set and he has cut down on the e-mails altogether
Philip Irvine
RCA Trust

Mr Irvine said much of the problem ended when Steven split from his girlfriend.

"It was related to the relationship difficulties he was experiencing.

"In terms of an addiction, that isn't unusual - there are often underlying problems, problems at work, relationship problems, stress or not coping, or mental health difficulties.

"For him, it was all about gaining reassurance from his girlfriend, knowing where she was and knowing what she was doing."

Mr Irvine, who is counselling the teenager once a week, said he had successfully managed to cut down the number of texts and e-mails he was sending.

"He is spending no more than 10 a week on texts, which is the goal we set, and he has cut down on the e-mails altogether."

Professor Patrick O'Donnell, a psychologist from Glasgow University, said new technology could bring new dangers which could signal the beginning of a worrying trend.

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