"I even lost money after performing work for someone," he says, "because I was too busy gaming to send out an invoice."
He lost standing in his profession that he may never gain back.
"I eventually stopped gaming," Roberts says, "because the thrill became less and less, even as I played more and more."
He and Van Cleave are among the minority of Internet addicts, experts say, who have been able to break their bad habits without an extreme intervention.
Roberts wrote a book about his experience, "Cyber Junkie: Escaping the Gaming and Internet Trap." Perhaps more importantly, he joined a cyberaddiction support group. "We're always there for each other," he says. "It's our 'Vitamin C,' C being for community."
It's that sense of camaraderie that Young hopes to evoke from her patients at Bradford General. "There's a group dynamic in having them be in a class together," she says. "There's a support system that builds up."
It's worth noting that reSTART, the country's first retreat center program for Internet addiction, opened in 2009. A 45-day retreat to "disconnect and find yourself" at reSTART costs $22,000, after which patients have the option to extend their retreat for $421 a day, depending on their individual treatment needs.
Van Cleave underscores the importance of getting professional help and learning, quite simply, how to properly think and function again in daily life. "Alcoholics can stay out of bars and restaurants that serve booze, but an Internet addiction is like an eating disorder," he says.
"They have to relearn how to eat, what foods to avoid, what stores to avoid," says Laroche, employing the same metaphor.
But Frances is worried a treatment regimen that could and should be applied to tens of thousands of people will instead be applied to millions. "I'm concerned there's so much publicity about these four lousy beds," he says. "This is being commercialized prematurely."
"Before developing clinical programs, we should have the research," says Frances. "This is a dangerous sign of a fad diagnosis. Unfortunately, the history of psychology is a history of fads like this."
"Remember," counters Young, "when Betty Ford first admitted she was an alcoholic, we didn't have people believing it was actually a problem until she came around and talked about her own problems with it. This is a place for people to go for help, and that we hope will help everyone around them stop taking Internet addiction so lightly."