For many, gaming is nothing more than harmless fun used to pass the time and potentially win at eSports along the way. However, it can develop into a compulsive behavior that makes it challenging to lead a normal life for others. The issue is especially prevalent in today’s society, where online games are available with a few clicks.
Problem gaming is a progressive addiction classified as an impulse-control disorder with mild to severe physical, social, and psychological repercussions. People suffering from it encounter a myriad of issues like;
- Anxiety-related problems
- Intestinal disorders
- Strained relationships with family and friends
Gaming addiction can make one feel powerless to overcome, but there are plenty of ways to combat it, repair broken relationships, and get life back on track. Here are pointers to guide you in the process.
Identify and Embrace the Problem’s Existence
Compulsive gaming is often referred to as a hidden sickness because there are no physical tell-tales of its existence. Also, unlike some others forms of addiction, it is impossible to physically overdose on gaming. The habit can exist for as long as players sustain it. As a gaming addict, the first step to recovery is admitting that the impulse-control disorder exists.
Most problem gamers tend to deny or minimize their addiction by comparison, glorification, and misinformation. Owning up to the issue can take tremendous courage, especially if a lot has been lost due to it. However, denying its existence only keeps the habit going. Pathological gaming is identifiable with the following signs:
- You find it challenging to walk away from gaming once you start and can keep going despite whether you’re winning or losing the game.
- You keep gaming a secret from loved ones or lie about the extent to which you game.
- Your family and friends voice their concern about how much time and money you spend on your gaming.
- You have repeatedly tried to quit, control, or reduce gaming but failed.
- Restlessness and irritability set in when you stop gaming.
- You get in trouble at work or lose your job due to the habit.
Get Ready to Change
Identifying a gambling problem is one thing and working towards overcoming it is another. Even if you understand the dangers of walking down the addiction road and state your desire to change, it will be nearly impossible to do so if you move through the same daily motions.
For instance, if you’re used to waking up and grabbing your phone first thing in the morning, you will likely continue gaming if you keep up the same habit. Steps that get you ready for the journey ahead include;
- Delete online game accounts and uninstall any gaming applications on your PC or mobile gadgets.
- Remove any triggers that encourage the habit.
- Cut off social relationships with people that promote the behavior.
- Limit screen time.
Cutting off gaming addiction enablers is often the most challenging step to take since it can make things very lonely at first. However, it’ll all be count for something once you successfully kick the habit.
Strengthen Your Support Network
Overcoming any addiction, including gaming, is a tough battle to fight on your own without people around you to encourage your journey. Therefore, reach out to friends and family as you drop people who lead you down the addiction path. If these options are limited, go out and make new friends without visiting game sites.
Reach out to workmates with similar interests, join a book club, or enroll in an educational course. Whichever the case, make them aware of your journey so that they can hold you accountable.
On your recovery journey, there will be moments when you will intensely crave the gaming experience. These urges are mostly strong and seem to have no end when you are in the middle of one.
During such times, it is critical to remind yourself that they are just thoughts, and you can be a witness to them without acting them out. In no time, you will gain back control of your mind. If the urge persists, procrastinate it. Distract yourself with something else in the moment and keep postponing your gaming intentions until the urge passes.
Find New Hobbies or Reconnect with Old Ones
Avoid slipping back to your old habits by finding new ways to excite your mind without relying on games. In most cases, pathological gamers lose touch with hobbies they enjoy and pump that energy to gaming. If this is the case, rediscover activities that brought you joy, such as dancing, farming, singing, and drawing, to challenge and excite your brain in new ways.
Learn to Deal with Low Moments Healthily
Many gaming addicts use the habit to self-soothe when experiencing unpleasant emotions like loneliness, boredom, sadness, and anger. However, there are healthier routes to deal with such issues, like working out, spending time with gaming-free friends, and meditating. Find out why you are using online games as an escape and tackle the problem more effectively.
Keep the Repercussions in Mind
Always remember what you stand to lose if you slip back to your old habits or continue walking down the addiction road. Pathological gaming has severe personal, social, and financial effects. While dwelling on these repercussions inspires shame and guilt, it is not recommended to ignore them altogether. Use such lows to keep you motivated on your journey.
If your battle with gaming addiction is severe, consider getting professional help. Most regions where the activity is prevalent have mental health specialists that focus on addiction. Depending on the severity, you can call experts to get the help you need.