A college lecturer barricaded himself in a hotel room for 45 days to play computer games, a leading therapist has told.
Addiction consultant Tony Marini treated the unnamed 40-year-old Bulgarian during a stay at Castle Craig Hospital in the Borders.
The man’s frantic family turned to the private hospital after a global hunt to find somewhere to treat his spiralling gaming obsession.The startling revelation comes as Marini warned of an epidemic of gaming addicts and urged NHS Scotland to open a specialist unit.
He also told of a rise in the number of children stealing from family members to buy add-ons for games online.
Marini, 54, who battled cocaine and gambling addictions before qualifying as a therapist, said: “Gaming addiction is a growing problem that the NHS in Scotland should be helping with.“We’ve had to treat kids who have stolen money to spend in online games. It’s deeply worrying and we’ve seen a spike in the last two years.”
Marini’s Bulgarian patient ended up at Castle Craig in Peeblesshire last year battling an addiction to combat games Fortnite and Call of Duty.
He sparked a missing person probe when he stopped turning up for work in Tokyo.
Police traced him to a hotel room, which he refused to leave.
His elderly dad then flew to Japan to help his son.
Marini said: “His dad, who was in his 70s, had to kick in the door to get him out. It was a
disturbing scene. He’d stopped using the toilet and was urinating in bottles so he could keep playing and had barely slept. By the time his family got in, he was more or less rolled up in a ball in the middle of the room.” The academic was sent to live with his sister in Newcastle before relapsing. The family then sent him to Castle Craig.
Marini added: “He stayed on a six-week intensive course and we were able to get to the bottom of his problems. He’s now back in Bulgaria and working again.”
Earlier this month, NHS leaders warned video games that encouraged gambling were “setting up kids for addiction”.
The World Health Organisation recently classified gaming disorder as a mental health condition.
Last October, NHS England opened the UK’s first clinic to treat gaming addiction.
A spokeswoman for the clinic said they did not know how many Scots had so far been referred for help.
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