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NEW VIDEO: The EASIEST Way to Stop Gaming

Escaping Addiction

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I've been addicted to playing video games for years, ever since my sophomore year in college. I didn't realize at the time that the games were really the problem, partially because I could also get sucked into videos and social media to a lesser extent, which I also didn't recognize as addictive products at the time. As such, I saw it more as personal weakness and hated myself for allowing these things to take over my life and keep me from being the person I wanted to be and doing what I had set out to do. I dropped out of college a year later. For the next six years, the only time I actually felt like myself was when I worked as a camp director over the summers, but then I would try to get my life back on track during the rest of the year (attending school mostly while holding down small part-time jobs) and every year I'd come back out of summer camp convinced that it was the year that I'd finally turn my life back around. With each passing year, I felt that hope dwindle. I lied about grades and school to my parents and tried to maintain a semblance of dignity for myself in my social life as I watched my friends push ahead with their lives while I let my life collapse.

4 years ago, I met a girl who I fell in love with and started an amazing job as a kayaking guide and instructor, and eventually began to turn things around. I re-enrolled in a 4-year university and have felt like my life was finally moving in the right direction. That said, I still hadn't given up the video games, and between kayaking and procrastinating to the last minute before getting my homework done, I filled every moment I could find with the games I've become so addicted to while trying to hide the extent of the problem from my girlfriend and the people around me. It wasn't even a conscious effort to hide it from them per say, at this point, it was more of a habit. I'd even told my girlfriend I was addicted to games, but in a casual way, like it was a minor problem that wasn't in need of a serious response. It was an unconscious masquerade, a defense mechanism I had built to protect my habit. It wasn't that I only ever spent time playing games, I have many close friends who are adventurous and outdoorsy, and my love of backpacking from my backpacking days had me organizing backpacking trips, runs and hikes semi-regularly with friends. But still, when deadlines weren't looming and I didn't have a commitment for running, backpacking, date nights and so forth around the corner, I would pack in as many hours of gaming as possible. I'd stay up until 4am to try to progress a save on Football Manager or make a mod for Total War Warhammer. I was passing for a functional gamer, but just barely.

Last semester, I failed an essential class to finish my degree this semester, which means I'll be stuck in school (and paying for it) for an extra semester. My partner is seriously worried about the risks of pregnancy after she reaches 35 next year, and so me staying on schedule was really important to us being able to be in the right space to get married and raise a kid. What's more, I can't bear the thought of this sucking away my life when I have a child to care for and love. I was off out of state the past few weeks visiting my partner's family, and I see this as the perfect time to finally let go of this addiction as (by virtue of traveling) I haven't played any games in over two weeks, making the withdrawal a bit easier. Since getting back, I've been clean for the past 5 days and I intend to keep going for the full 90. I've been struck by the void that not having the games has left in my life. I've been able to fill it with much more meaningful things (running, tennis, writing, organizing, chess, financial planning, and so forth), but I can't deny that, even with these replacement activities, I just feel a bit depressed and aimless at times. It's been exacerbated by the fact that the bad weather in California has meant I haven't really had much work the past couple weeks. That's probably the hardest bit right now, because I wake up earlier than my partner and often find myself wondering what I should do with those first couple hours. In my head I know I probably should just get out and run, take a cold shower, work out, etc, but what actually happens is I spend an hour or two watching YouTube or something before I can really get the engine going.

That's where I'm at so far. I'm grateful to have this community to share my experiences and I hope it helps us all find a better place in our lives together.

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