Seattle Photographer Daniel Berman | Seattle editorial photographer | (206) 387-3767 daniel@bermanphotos.com

Internet addiction for the Daily Telegraph of London

Last month, I got a call to shoot a story about an internet addiction treatment center, one of the first of its kind, for the Daily Telegraph of London. It was my second assignment for them; previously I did a story about medical marijuana patients in Washington.

After a thirty minute drive down bucolic country roads, I arrived at 9 a.m. sharp for what was supposed to be the start of the group’s morning meeting.

They had already begun, and as they described what they were hopeful for in the coming day, it became clear it was now my turn. What, really, was I hopeful for? Feeling visibly caught off-guard, I tried to explain that I was hopeful to get to know them, that it would be beautiful out — that I might get the chance to tell their stories. The residents didn’t owe me anything, but they were very welcoming. And unreserved. I didn’t want to parachute in and claim to know anything about what they are going through — so I just tried to sit, and listen, and shoot sparingly, only when the moment really felt significant.

Based in Fall City, Wash. not far from Microsoft headquarters, the reStart treatment program is three to six-months long and helps enrollees, who are overwhelming 18-24 and male, replace their unhealthy activities with physical fitness, human relationships and newfound intrapersonal skills. The residents live in a new and spacious home bordered by tall trees, plush lawns, a tree-house turned therapy room and a climbing wall. But for all the amenities, the hot-tub and the alike, this is serious business. The people in the program that I met spoke about their behavior, and what it cost them, what it did to their lives, in an identical manner and gravity as those with any other kind of serious addiction.

I met people who had been in the program for months, and others who had been there for less than a week. All had harrowing stories to share. Like Isaac, who lost a scholarship to American University in Washington, D.C. because his internet gaming had become so out of control, he no longer attended classes or went to work as a math tutor. And Mark, who spent days locked in his bedroom playing internet video games. He had lost his job, and was not going to be able to make rent — and on the day he was to move into a homeless shelter, his parents gave him the intervention that brought him to reStart.

Ultimately, being there and hearing each of the residents’ stories even gave me pause. We live in this digital age, where you can barely even pay your bills or get customer service without a computer — where navigating means entering point a to point b into Google. I can’t imagine trying to do my job without the technology I rely on. Driving away to my next job, I felt guilty turning my phone back on. I realized just how much the day had affected me. The phone began buzzing violently as a stream of alerts, texts, emails and notifications flooded the screen. Of course, I realized, I had to check them.

Stairs lead to the private resident of Cozette Rae, the clinical director and cofounder of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Stairs lead to the private resident of Cozette Rae, the clinical director and cofounder of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

"For about five weeks, I didn't leave my apartment. I didn't see the light of day. I gained 40 pounds. I had 132 missed calls," said Isaac Vaisberg, 21, from Washington, D.C., who played the computer game World of Warcraft to the point where he quit attending classes at American University and lost his job tutoring students in math. "The community I didn't have outside, I could build in the online world. While I was gaming I was happy and the second I got off I thought 'what do I have out there?' " Vaisberg is three months into the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

“For about five weeks, I didn’t leave my apartment. I didn’t see the light of day. I gained 40 pounds. I had 132 missed calls,” said Isaac Vaisberg, 21, from Washington, D.C., who played the computer game World of Warcraft to the point where he quit attending classes at American University and lost his job tutoring students in math. “The community I didn’t have outside, I could build in the online world. While I was gaming I was happy and the second I got off I thought ‘what do I have out there?’ ” Vaisberg is three months into the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Books sit in the living room of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Books sit in the living room of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

"It got to the point where I wasn't paying rent, spending 18 hours a day at the computer gaming," said Mark Browning, 19, of Boulder, Colorado. "I was about to go to a homeless shelter and, that day, my parents gave me an intervention." The former University of Colorado-Boulder student has spent about six months in the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. Now he plays indoor soccer on the weekends, commutes by bike to his 30 to 40-hours-per-week job in Fall City, sings in a choir and hangs out with new friends he has made. "The social stuff takes a while to come back," he said. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

“It got to the point where I wasn’t paying rent, spending 18 hours a day at the computer gaming,” said Mark Browning, 19, of Boulder, Colorado. “I was about to go to a homeless shelter and, that day, my parents gave me an intervention.” The former University of Colorado-Boulder student has spent about six months in the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. Now he plays indoor soccer on the weekends, commutes by bike to his 30 to 40-hours-per-week job in Fall City, sings in a choir and hangs out with new friends he has made. “The social stuff takes a while to come back,” he said. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Just one week into the program, Adam Tuttle, 18, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sits after a morning meeting at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Just one week into the program, Adam Tuttle, 18, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sits after a morning meeting at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

A sign displays a message written by a client in the living room of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

A sign displays a message written by a client in the living room of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

A sign at the front entrance of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. Clients may have cellphones without internet access, and may use the computer provided at the center for up to two hours per day for school or work-related activities, though their sessions are monitored through an internet site they check in and out of. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

A sign at the front entrance of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. Clients may have cellphones without internet access, and may use the computer provided at the center for up to two hours per day for school or work-related activities, though their sessions are monitored through an internet site they check in and out of. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Clients Carlos Bustelo, 23, center, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, watches as Chris Sukle, 20, of Castle Rock, Colorado, prepares a meal around lunchtime at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. Sukle was able to obtain an internship as a prep cook at a the Fall City Roadhouse in town. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Clients Carlos Bustelo, 23, center, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, watches as Chris Sukle, 20, of Castle Rock, Colorado, prepares a meal around lunchtime at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. Sukle was able to obtain an internship as a prep cook at a the Fall City Roadhouse in town. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

"I just want my friends back home to be proud of me," said Adam Tuttle, 18, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as he practices the piano at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

“I just want my friends back home to be proud of me,” said Adam Tuttle, 18, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as he practices the piano at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Dakota, an Australian Shepherd, is a live-in therapy dog at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Dakota, an Australian Shepherd, is a live-in therapy dog at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

The reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA is located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

The reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA is located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Chris Sukle, 20, of Castle Rock, Colorado climbs the outdoor bouldering wall at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Chris Sukle, 20, of Castle Rock, Colorado climbs the outdoor bouldering wall at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Clients Isaac Vaisberg, 21, left, and Mark Browning, 19, walk around at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Clients Isaac Vaisberg, 21, left, and Mark Browning, 19, walk around at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Chris Sukle, 20, of Castle Rock, Colorado, hangs out in the garage-turned-gym area of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Chris Sukle, 20, of Castle Rock, Colorado, hangs out in the garage-turned-gym area of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Just about two weeks in, client Robby Hardy, 20, of Mukilteo, Washington, left, participates in a communications skills-building exercise with Adam Tuttle, 18, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about one week in, as therapist Linda Reed looks on at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

Just about two weeks in, client Robby Hardy, 20, of Mukilteo, Washington, left, participates in a communications skills-building exercise with Adam Tuttle, 18, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about one week in, as therapist Linda Reed looks on at the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA, located about 25 miles (41km) southeast of Seattle Tuesday May 7. The three to six-month program, the first of its kind in the United States, works to help men and women over 18 suffering from problematic internet, video game and technology use by teaching positive lifestyle changes in a serene, rural environment surrounded by nature. Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

"It's as if we are standing on a ledge and see a tsunami coming and we're yelling 'hey gotta be careful,' and the rumble is so loud our voices are drowned out," said Cozette Rae, the clinical director and cofounder of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA. "You have to manage your use or your use will manage you." Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.

“It’s as if we are standing on a ledge and see a tsunami coming and we’re yelling ‘hey gotta be careful,’ and the rumble is so loud our voices are drowned out,” said Cozette Rae, the clinical director and cofounder of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery program at Heavensfield Retreat Center in Fall City, WA. “You have to manage your use or your use will manage you.” Photo by Daniel Berman for the Daily Telegraph of London.


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