Algeria has become the first country in Africa to get a rehabilitation centre that is dedicated towards treating Internet addiction.

According to a report by Al Jazeera, last year when the Algerian government decided to block social networking sites to prevent students from cheating in the exams, some addicts reached a ‘crisis point’ where they could not handle the shutdown. Following the incident, a team of psychologists at Bachir Mentouri clinic in the capital Algiers rolled out a de-addiction program for the people addicted to technology, particularly social media.

With this, Algeria became the first African nation that has a facility aiming to cure web addicts. The country, which has a population of nearly 40 million, also joined the ranks of the nations where Internet addiction has emerged as a leading health hazard.

Algeria is not the first nation to get a rehab clinic for treating Internet addicts. Similar facilities are also available in Australia, China, United States and South Korea.

Internet addiction is real and nearly 420 million people across the globe are addicted to the Internet, suggests a 2014 study titled Cyber-Psychology, Behaviour and Behavioural Addiction. The study further suggests that out of the 39% people across the globe who have access to the Internet, nearly 6% people are addicted to the internet.

Internet addiction is characterised by extreme behaviour regarding Internet use and Internet access that leads to impairment or distress. Another study by the University of California suggests that the symptoms of the condition include losing track of time, irritability, social seclusion, aggressive attitude when isolated from the Internet, sleep disturbance, depression and panic and anxiety.

Although there is no medication available for this condition, it can be treated using therapy and counselling.