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NEW VIDEO: I Quit MMOs and THIS Happened

The adventure of West


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Hello! I'm West. I'm a 20 year old male and I come from Norway.

My goal with this journal is to both help me understand my own addiction and, equally importantly, to help others who may experience the same things that I do. This first post will be pretty long. Here's my story:

The first time I played a video game was when I was 4. Me and my brother got lots of games that our uncle had downloaded and burned on CDs. Of course he only meant well by this, but being exposed to games at such a young age is probably why I have spent so many hours and days of my life in front of the screen. This wasn't a big problem in my life since a child has less responsibility, but when I got into junior high school I bought myself a proper gaming computer and got very addicted, playing all the hours I could spare after school. I was ashamed of my playing, so gaming created friction in my life. I didn't want people to know that I played so much, so I avoided people , was overly withdrawn and had a lot of social fear going on.

During high school I played less video games, but still some every week. After high school the military decided that I was going to be a soldier (I didn't have much of a say in the matter, haha!), and for the 6 months that I was there, there was *zero* gaming whatsoever. This was a very good detox, albeit more harsh than necessary! I wasn't aware of it at the time, but this gave me good momentum to move forward. I had forgotten about gaming.

By spring 2015 I was out of the military (out of service? ;) ) and had found something that interested me a lot that I wanted to study at university. There were a bunch of exams that I needed that I didn't have, and I recently finished the last exam that I needed. The past year I was very focused on the subjects and getting a driver's licence, and it all went very well. However... Just barely.

After over a year when gaming was off the radar, out of nowhere... One month before the exams, an old 'demon' inside of me woke up. I had a sudden urge to play Runescape, a game that I've played on and off for 10 years since I was first introduced to it, but never managed to entirely quit! I think all addicts have had their own 'addiction-demon' wake up after being asleep for some time, and everyone has a different demon. After fighting the craving for a while it didn't go away, and I ended up playing for a week 10+ hours a day, but managed to pull myself together and focus on the exams for the final couple of weeks. After the final exam (May 30th) I played probably 10+ hours a day until last saturday (June 5th). 

And here we are now! Hello.

Goal: To understand my addictions to gaming, series, movies and videos so that eventually I can be free from them.

Reason: After each gaming session or watching a series as an escape, I have to return to the real world. I'd much rather learn how to be happy in life outside entertainment than rely on it to get hits of happiness. I drew these highly unscientific 'happiness graphs' for gamers and ex-gamers; they represent my best guesses:


The gamer's happiness on a daily basis is usually high when he or she plays, but low when not playing. When school, work or other responsibilities set in, they will interfere with gaming. They may daydream about playing, which creates friction with the present moment which leads to unhappiness. Avoiding responsibilities and personal growth outside gaming builds up over time. The trend will be that the gamer's happiness decreases in the long run.

An ex-gamer-addict will on each day have their ups and downs; the downs can come from urges to play or from facing real-life problems that they previously ran away from by playing games. However, since they are already not gaming it wont be so bad to deal with real-life responsibilities. If they stay on this path and persist through the perhaps intense and painful withdrawal symptoms, they will become more present in every moment and be able to enjoy themselves without entertainment. They deal with problems that arise instead of running away, which boosts confidence. The trend will be that the ex-gamer's happiness increases in the long run.

These graphs would fit well for other addictions as well.


I had a craving to play earlier today. I've studied at home for the past week, so I think that I'll go to the library tomorrow and study there instead. Although I will be using the web to search for information while studying, I have no urges to browse or procrastinate at the library. It's weird but true!

Whoever is reading, best of luck on your own journey!

Edited by West
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Thanks Cam and Work!

Cravings, but no relapse today.

I went to the library, and it really is a great place to focus; I was there studying from 10 am to 2 pm. I started the day with a short 10 minute meditation. The mind tends to spin on and on in the morning, especially when I have vivid dreams during the night. Just sitting quietly and observing the thoughts and sensations that arise loosens the tight grip of the mind and leaves me more open and relaxed, and that ain't a bad place to start the day from!

After dinner I got some pretty intense cravings, showing up in the visual field as images from the game. In my experience, this time of day is by far the most likely time that I'll have a relapse of any kind. The usual pattern is this: During the day I concentrate and learn, I'm in work mode. I may work out, then I eat dinner. Then I turn off work mode and go into entertainment mode. Work, eat, rest is the natural cycle I guess. However, not just any kind of rest feels comfortable... It has to be entertainment of some sorts for some reason. Games, youtube videos, series... anything would do as a distraction.

I don't think that there is anything wrong with any of these examples of entertainment, but I think that there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy desires. You could see a movie because you think that you'll enjoy it a lot, and you'd be perfectly fine if you didn't get to see it. You could also see it because you feel like the emotions that arise without the distractions are too painful to face, so you feel that you need to see it. The cravings that I'm experiencing are definitely of the latter type.

The first question is, what am I distracting myself away from? The mind is all about doing, and I think that what I feel most resistance to right now is stopping, which means not doing. My brain craves the high stimulus environments that games, videos and movies provide and wildly protests against silence. 

Second question, what is the best solution to this problem? My best guess is sitting down and simply allow the cravings to come and go and just investigate them curiously. Facing these emotions sounds like the only way to do real progress. The trade-off is that this is what hurts the most!

Also, grief has subtly started to kick in. Ohhhh damn, yes it has! Grief over the fact that I'm actually quitting playing for real, and that the days of entertainment as a distraction are over. It really is inconceivable, and painful to think about. It will probably grow over the next days and stay for some weeks or longer. But, these things can't and won't give true lasting happiness. As my silly graphs show. I've seen evidence of this over and over again, so I can say with confidence that it's true! 

Yes, recovering from an addiction is intense and will take time, but it's a choice we make. "It will be so worth it", says future me. Now there is nowhere left to run or hide! The road forward is the only one left. Where does it leeead..? O.o

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The introspection in your journal is great, so I want to commend you for that. Cravings are normal and will come and go, but what you want to view them as is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and develop your emotional awareness. So sitting down and allowing your cravings to come and go is one way, and meditation can be a great way to train this. Use Headspace or the app Calm to learn more. Also, exercise can be great for cravings because it shifts the energy in your body. 

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Good tip! I've never really tried guided meditation before. But it seems like a good idea when the cravings are most intense; at that point it's as if I don't even want the cravings to go away through mindfulness and patience. I just want to relieve it externally. This may be because I don't truly believe that the meditation will work before I actually sit down and do it.

It's almost noon now and I'm restless. It's not like I don't have anything to do, but I don't want to do them right now. For those curious I just started learning programming and I'm also learning a new foreign language, and I like it a lot. And yet I find myself wanting nothing but high stimulus. I think that these are leftover cravings from last night, since I didn't go for the entertainment after dinner as the usual pattern is. I didn't know that cravings could spill over to the next day, but they can! However, a little wise voice in my head says that the craving will only come back even stronger next time, so I won't go for the next hit.

I may try the pomodoro technique too, starting at a small portion of time that seems bearable. Even just 5 minutes. Anyone can spare 5 minutes, even a lazy me! And I've seen in the past that I gain momentum and actually don't want to stop after 5 minutes, which is pretty amazing.

Also, I should mention that writing these posts has been a huge help. I'm not sure what it is, but sitting down and writing about the addiction makes me understand it better. The responses are absolutely a great bonus. However, I believe that putting your thoughts on 'paper' is the biggest part. In the process you will inevitably dig into your mind and understand your addiction better. Writing something down makes it undeniable and crystal clear, and making it public adds some accountability into the mix. However, I think that external accountability is less powerful than inner growth, because for me it shows up as being motivated by fear. Fear of being a disappointment to others.

A big thing that I've noticed after writing out my thoughts is that it's easier to follow through on what you already know is the right choice. I have no doubt that many people with an addiction knows that the better choice would be to stop doing what they are addicted to. I knew too, but I didn't do it. Now I write it down and share it, and it's all of a sudden easier to do the hard but right choices. It makes it easier to put into practice the wisdom that's already there.

To anyone who is reading this and wants to quit gaming, I absolutely recommend this! It makes the addiction much more manageable. I'm surprised at how long these posts end up. I'm not in control; the words are just pouring out... :P

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Emergency! Yes. Huge cravings right now. I feel like a hole needing to be filled. As far as I'm aware of, the cravings are triggered by sensations in the visual field as images and in the auditory field as music from a game or a series. The cravings themselves show up as emotions such as hopelessness, sadness, denial, longing, mild panic and irritation.  More specifically these emotions show up as body sensations: tightness in the head and chest, heavy heartbeats, tingling in the stomach area, low energy, mild jitteriness, raised shoulders and a tense neck. 

I'm gonna sit in silence for a while or maybe go for a bike ride. Writing it down made the cravings calm down a bit. Finally I understand what is meant by "have faith". I have faith in this method, that life genuinely will feel much better without these addictions, despite feeling pain at the moment. 

I need some simple but effective tools for emergencies when I'm about to have a relapse. I'm guessing that any of these things can be used:

  • Just think rationally about this and do the right thing  <-- Yeah right!! That shit will never work.
  • Disconnect the internet
  • Go to another room, sit still and do nothing while being burned alive by emotions
  • Run outside. Jump, roll on the ground.
  • Take off on a bike
  • A cold shower

To those who read this, I'm curious about how cravings show up for you, and how do you deal with emergency-level cravings?

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Nearing the end of the day now.

It was an intense day, but I feel peaceful now. The cravings have largely settled and my mind is more still. A huge difference compared to two hours ago. Regarding that, I got through it by laying down on the floor and just allowing the cravings to come and go until the cravings went away and I felt like getting up. 

I think one of the reasons that the urges to play are becoming less frequent and less powerful now is that there is significantly less mind chatter now. When the mind was used to high stimulus, it seems like it kept on spinning on high gear long after the high stimulus activity (gaming or other entertainment) stopped. My mind would show and replay images, music and sounds from the game and would constantly look forward to the next session. This mind chatter was inescapable unless I distracted myself, which games and youtube are great for. Thus the vicious cycle was created. 

So, am I out of the woods already? Probably not. I may get a lot of mind chatter tomorrow morning if I have a vivid or scary dream during the night, which may lead to cravings. There is probably a whole bunch of triggers that I haven't identified yet, so I better stay sharp!

Another thing I should watch out for is that my older brother is coming home for the summer soon, and he watches series and youtube as the norm is and may play a game occasionally. I love my brother, but I've seen before that my old patterns return when my brother returns or there is a family get-together, or when meeting with old friends. I think that extra mindfulness and vigilance during these occasions will do the trick.

I'm not kidding when I say that I feel peaceful; this really is great.

Gooood night people! :ph34r:

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For your peace of mind know this: there's some empirical evidence that when you quit something you're addicted to that your withdrawal symptoms (cravings would fall within this) will become more intense initially (for around the first 24-48 hour period) and then they will decline progressively over time.

So you should be getting closer to that decline. Hang in there, you've got this. :)

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Thanks Cam, that's good news!

I was pretty restless during the day today and had quite a bit of cravings, but no emergencies. A great improvement. However, I noticed that I had some subtle feelings of expectation; I'm expecting to indulge in any of my addictions in some time. My mind says: "Just a few more days of being a good person, then I will reward myself with just a little of [insert addiction]". Such a sneaky thought! But it was caught by the web of mindfulness. 

At some times during the day I had withdrawal symptoms such as low energy and no motivation. I just laid down on the ground during these 30+ minute periods and felt unproductive. However, whenever I did do something it was productive, meaning it was something that got me closer to a goal. 

There's one thing I want to mention, and that's moderation. Some people can do things in moderation, and I am most definitely not one of them! I know that there are plenty of you in this forum who share this character trait. This may be a blessing in disguise. If I was able to play or watch something for only one to two hours each day, I would probably be just fine and have no need to quit. But since I'm no good at moderation, I have to make a binary choice; all of it or none of it. Seeing what future lies ahead of each of the two choices, the only real option becomes to drop it all, even though it's a tough choice.

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I'm enjoying how you articulate what's going on in your struggles to stay "sober".  Your powers of self-observation are strong. I especially can relate to this thought:

My mind says: "Just a few more days of being a good person, then I will reward myself with just a little of [insert addiction]".

It's crazy how that just pushes its way into my head all the time, too.  

Also, It's also interesting how, at around 5 pm each day i'm like - "oh, i'm done with other stuff. Time to go home and game."  I barely ever thought about how many hours that is... almost 7 hours.   Even with the down time of falling over because of weakness brought on by withdraw symptoms, waiting them out and dong something productive is way better than going back to the lame cycle we were in.  

Anyway, keep it up.  You're encouraging me.

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Hey byrd! I'm so glad so hear that you got some encouragement out these posts. I really think that being honest about what's really going on helps a lot, even though it's tough at times. Sometimes I want to smack my well articulated observations in their faces and just indulge in the longest of marathons. Luckily the emergency craving tools have saved me in these moments!

Cam, thanks for that video! I can find internal rewards such as generally more happiness with less stimulus, getting more done, way better sleep habits. The days of sneaking into bed at 4 am and hope that no one in the house wakes up are fortunately over. Such a bad feeling the next day; poor sleep, lack of focus, generally a bad person to be around. Such consequences! I could set up some external rewards too for when I need them; one more tool to stay on track. 

During the first half of the day today I was pretty agitated, feeling like I had nowhere to run off to. That's what it felt like, like I was trapped psychologically. I just wanted a hit of unconsciousness. Between the storms I learned some more programming and did some word reviews from the foreign language. Earlier this evening I did a 1 hour meditation, this meditation to be specific:


I actually ended up feeling very peaceful. I thought it would be hell that day, but I got lucky :)! I very much recommend meditation to all fellow detoxers.

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I had some crazy withdrawal symptoms today. It felt like being torn apart by two opposite forces! I desperately wanted to relax by watching something. Anything would do; a podcast, a series, videos from a game, a movie. Amidst the chaos I noted how much I needed to have that, and that I would never be free from this 'substance' if I reached for it every time to relieve the pain. Why does it hurt to go without? What real alternatives to relax can I choose?

I found myself cornered by my mind. When I laid down to simply relax, my mind still wouldn't stop shouting. I sat up in a chair and did the same meditation seen in the last post. The first five minutes were torture as you could expect, but after a while my mind started to let go of the cravings which were the sources of the emotional pain. When they went away, the tensions in the body caused by the cravings went away with them. That was what it took to give my body rest. I'll try this again tomorrow. If this can actually consistently work as a relaxation and that, equally importantly, the cravings lessen every time, then I think I've stumbled onto something good here.

I should mention that I have some meditation experience, so you may not get the same results from meditation in the beginning. You may experience just torture for the entire meditation for a while. If you try to use meditation as the bulk of your relaxation during the day without any prior experience, you may just end up feeling exhausted after each meditation, which won't work. I still recommend daily meditation; when you've continued this habit for a while you'll come out feeling better after a session! Still not every time for me, but it's coming together.

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Work and Cam, in my experience meditation has worked every time, but funnily enough, every time I also doubted that it would work on beforehand! Maybe just getting on board with it is a key point in meditation. 

Today I was at the library to study and everything was fine while I was there. I met a classmate from junior high school and we talked for a good half hour. I could meet up with or skype with friends a little more often. Previously I've not been good at taking the initiative, especially when it comes to socializing, but there's no reason that can't change! After I came back home I had the same cravings as yesterday, but the 'being torn apart'-feeling was more intense. I was at the verge of crying when I sat down to meditate. It was very much a feeling of being sick and tired of my mind and my self. So many problems from just stopping doing a habit! I'll explain how the meditation works.

The meditation is simple: make a distinction between thought and awareness. A personal example would be a craving to play. The thought is 'I need to play right now. Not playing is unbearable'. The awareness can be an image of the game along with tension in the forehead and eyebrows. The awareness by itself is manageable. The sensations are uncomfortable, but that's it. The thought adds a 'charge' and drama to the awareness of the craving. It tells my mind that these sensations are not only uncomfortable, but they will only get worse and they will never stop unless I play.

The awareness gives the raw information, while the thought gives something extra. This extra is where the danger lies, because the extra is fiction and speculation. I think that this kind of thought is designed to serve our survival but not necessarily our happiness.

So, I kept on making the distinction between what my thoughts were saying and what was actually occurring in my awareness. I experienced huge resistance and wild protest from my mind; it didn't really want to hear "relax, it's not as bad as it looks!". I had to use the technique on the resistance itself. A little meta is not unusual in meditation. After like 15 minutes things started to loosen up and my mind and body got to relax. Believing my thoughts is like adding logs to the fire. If I go with awareness only, then the thoughts will only continue for a while before they run out of fuel.

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