Chicago hotel offers hope to CrackBerry addicts

One-step cold turkey cure

The manager of a Chicago hotel has offered a glimmer of hope to those who have become hopelessly addicted to their BlackBerries - a one-step, cold turkey programme guaranteed to separate junkies from their devices without surgical intervention.

It's all pretty simple: you turn up at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and ask Rick Ueno to take your CrackBerry from you and lock it away in his office for the duration of your stay. The service is free and you can, should the withdrawal symptoms prove too hideous, request the BlackBerry's return at any time.

The reason for Ueno's initiative is personal: he too had slipped into the twilight world of advanced personal communication addiction. He told Reuters: "I was really addicted to my BlackBerry. I had an obsession with email. Morning and night. There came a time when I didn't think it was healthy...I quit cold turkey."

Actually, he didn't quite quit cold turkey, but rather "switched to a regular cell phone" - the e-equivalent of methadone treatment.

Still, Ueno is moving towards a brighter, post-BlackBerry future. He said: "I run a hotel with over 900 employees and thousands of guests. I think I'm more effective. I feel better. I sleep better. My family likes it." ®

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