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Stopping and reversing the avalanche, my road to recovery


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Day Thirteen

Another tiring day. Still clean, also starting to avoid the more distracting parts of the internet such as social media and YT. Got a lot more progress in my exam prep and reading, though still not as much as I'd like. Getting there though. 

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Day Fourteen 

 

Clean, tired, etc. Watched a bit of Twitch today, felt kind of guilty so shut it right after. Two weeks clean by tomorrow. Still got plenty of schoolwork, not procrastinating anymore though. 

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Day Fifteen 

 

Pretty tired after work. Finally caught up to the studying material. Now have less than a week to review and revise, will be tight but I'll be busy. Still clean. Two weeks, huh? Not bad. 

A friend invited me for some games and I told them I'm 'fasting' on games. No crazy urges, reading is doing a decent job at supplementing it. 

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6 hours ago, TheKingNoob said:

Day Fifteen 

 

Pretty tired after work. Finally caught up to the studying material. Now have less than a week to review and revise, will be tight but I'll be busy. Still clean. Two weeks, huh? Not bad. 

A friend invited me for some games and I told them I'm 'fasting' on games. No crazy urges, reading is doing a decent job at supplementing it. 

Nice job on following through with your intentions. Peer pressure from gamer friends can be so challenging, so way to go on handling that! 

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16 hours ago, Theresa said:

Nice job on following through with your intentions. Peer pressure from gamer friends can be so challenging, so way to go on handling that! 

Day Sixteen 

Working hard again today, still clean. It's getting easier and easier by the day -- occasional urges from time to time but I've learned to steer mostly away from anything related to gaming. Still a long road ahead though. 

 

I think peer pressure was the one thing holding me back the most, I've gotten to know a lot of people online, good people, but in the end of the day it's gaming that connect us and it's so easy to get carried away. I'm definitely missing the social aspect of online games the most, but I've rekindled some non-gaming connections as well and that's helped me stay clean. 

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Day Eighteen

Fell asleep early yesterday and forgot the journal, still going strong. Two more days to final exam of the semester, than only two days off before the next one starts. Yikes. That weekend would normally be filled be gaming, and since I'll have been done with my work by then I'll also be mightily tempted. Will be the hardest challenge so far, for sure. Need to stay aware. 

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1 hour ago, TheKingNoob said:

Fell asleep early yesterday and forgot the journal, still going strong. Two more days to final exam of the semester, than only two days off before the next one starts. Yikes. That weekend would normally be filled be gaming, and since I'll have been done with my work by then I'll also be mightily tempted. Will be the hardest challenge so far, for sure. Need to stay aware. 

I know what you mean. Weekends can be a big obstacle. Plan ahead for what you might do instead, as well as you can. Drawing on your non-gaming connections may help, even just conversations online.

Edited by Zeno
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22 hours ago, Zeno said:

I know what you mean. Weekends can be a big obstacle. Plan ahead for what you might do instead, as well as you can. Drawing on your non-gaming connections may help, even just conversations online.

Day Nineteen

Keeping it up. Having an actual morning routine is doing wonders for my productivity. Got quite jaded with studying, but I'm actually ramping up with learning Mandarin. 

Maybe it's the challenge and the freshness of it? Learning new word compounds and characters is pretty difficult(let alone tones) but the thought of eventually being able to converse and understand the language keeps me going. I guess its a similar vibe to grinding for a high lvl gear or practicing and honing your skills in games, but the end result is actually meaningful (speaking/understanding a new language is universally useful) vs. artificial (95% of 'pleasure' from gaming don't last long). I'm also considering doing the HSK tests eventually to give myself a goal and once I get the basics, find a language partner. Looking forward to it. 

Anyways that's been the main occupier of my free time. Hopefully I can make it a long lasting habit. 

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Posted (edited)

Day Twenty - My Two Cents on Addiction

Had a showerthought during my morning shower and I'm gonna dump them here -- not sure if there's another place I should post it. It's still unrefined anyway. It got a lot longer than I expected it to be (>1000 words). Took me almost two hours to write out. But I think it's important to write this out for myself, get my thoughts out there. 

 

My Two Cents on Gaming Addiction

I'm not a psychologist, everything I write below is based purely on my personal experience battling addiction. As someone who has been deep in the addiction abyss and still recovering from it, I think my opinion is worth sharing.

Our Brain, Willpower, and Pleasure

Humans are both complex and simple beings. We can train ourselves to achieve extraordinary feats but also to repeat simple activity loops endlessly. 

The are two meters that measure our daily activities, the short term and long term pleasure (urges/benefits) meter. 

855466281_TheUrge-BenefitDiagram.thumb.jpg.3c428958918ba63e32caeca0af90bff7.jpg

(not the best diagram but gets the point across)

This is also why sheer willpower isn't a solution to addiction: you might overcome it in several occasions, but statistically you will fail over a longer period of time.  

The Pleasure Combo and Why It's so Addictive

 

I've been addicted to many types of games. MOBAS, strategy, rhythm, shooters, gacha, I've been all over the place. And I think there's one overlapping factor: Short term (ST) and long term (LT) but deceptive pleasure.

 

Category 1: ST Displeasure, LT Pleasure

These are the category of 'beneficial' activities: they might seem daunting but are beneficial in the long run. 

 

Jogging 10 km a day is painful and exhausting in the short term, but the long term benefits and sense of achievement keeps you going. 

Learning a new language might be daunting and frustating at the start, but it pays off in the long run to open yourself up to more people worldwide. 

Doing uni coursework might be stressful and tedious, but the prospect of getting a well-paying and interesting job keeps you going. 

 

Category 2: ST Pleasure, LT Indifferent/Displeasure

 

These are the neutral/harmful but not (yet!) addictive activities. Unchecked they can grow into addictions. 

 

Grabbing a pack of chips on your weekly grocery trip gives pleasure in the long term but displeasure (gain weight) on indifferent (you balance your diet) in the long term.

Watching Netflix gets you relaxed in the short term, but eventually guilt/boredom gets you over it.

Now this is where true addiction begins: When your brain slowly but subconsciously 'shifts' ST pleasure/LT displeasure into ST pleasure/LT pleasure. This priority shift is the root cause of addictions and why it varies so much in scope -- any pleasurable activity can be shifted into an addictive one. 

 

Category 3: ST Pleasure, LT Pleasure (Deceptive) aka ADDICTION

Addiction fully emerges when your brain shifts its priorities to prioritize maximizing pleasure. 

Almost all games give a sense of both short and long term achievements. 

In my cases: (in retrospect this is kinda pointless to list out but I've already written it so no point in removing it)

 

MOBAS (e.g. Dota2, LoL)

ST: Winning your lane, outplaying opponents, winning a match

LT: master heroes, climbing leaderboards 

 

Rhythm games (e.g. osu!)

ST: Hitting a cool pattern, full combo maps

LT: master skillsets, play harder maps, climbing leaderboards

 

Strategy games (e.g. Paradox, Civilization)

ST: winning a war, man-max profits

LT: expanding your nation, unlock achievements, map painting

 

Gacha mobile game: (e.g Genshin Impact, Arknights)

ST: gacha pulls, advancing gear

LT: full collection, finish story, climb leaderboard

 

MMORPGs (e.g. ESO, WoW)

ST: Killing monsters, clearing dungeons

LT: Optimize gear, housing, climb leaderboard

 

The problem is that these long term pleasure is deceptive -- and often unreachable. 

It's harder to get addicted to Detroit: Become Human than Dota2; one has a definitive ending and the other doesn't. The most dangerous games are the endless ones, where the long term goal is unreachable or there is always another goal to reach. Modern games all trend towards this, whether it's lootboxes, subscriptions, or seasonal DLCs. 

 

Dealing With It

Stage 1/Short Term: Removing addictive activities

These are the most addictive activities and should be get rid of immediately. Most people stuck in addiction hell can't get over this step: they try to justify to themselves why the activities (e.g. gaming, smoking) are not that harmful and that they could manage it with enough willpower. NO! That's the reason you're addicted in the first place. Remove it from your life, cleanly. Uninstall games, throw away cigs, delete some accounts if neccesary. The hardest step is always the first one. 

 

Stage 2/Medium Term: Reducing urges, avoiding relapse

This is where I currently am. And this is probably where most quitters will stay, and that's fine. It doesn't fully solve the problem, you're technically still addicted and relapse is not out of the question, but if you correctly do your relapse management you won't be dealing with the problems anymore. 

 

Stage 3/Long Term: Replace negative urges with positive ones

This is the ultimate endgoal of recovery: Reaching a state where given the choice between gaming and a more beneficial activity, you'd chose the latter. It can take months or years to supplement the gaming urges with another one (e.g. music, art, coding, language learning) but it's always something to strive for. A common pitfall is people in stage two thinking they've reached this stage when they actually haven't and fall back into addiction, resetting all progress. 

 

Conclusion

 

Our brain assigns a pleasure meter to each activity and if uncontrolled will always chose the activity with highest (short term) pleasure. These activities, such as gaming, browsing the internet, or unhealthy snacking are harmful but not yet addicting. Addiction develops when the brain subconsciously shifts these activites from low priority to (false) high priority. At this stage, whenever given a choice between a low urge/high benefit and high urge/ (false)high benefit it will overwhelmingly chose the latter. Our willpower can override this, but it's statistically unlikely to keep it up in opposition to the our subconscious mind: this is where most people fail. Modern games are inherently designed with endless gameplay loops and progression since it is the most profitable method. 

To overcome it there are three steps: Removal of harmful activity, relapse management, and reshifting priorities. Most people fail at step 1. Most quitters are at step 2(including myself), which is fine, but is fragile and all progress can be reversed after a relapse. Step 3 is full recovery, resetting of priorities, where gaming is no longer addictive and can be enjoyed in moderation. 

 

Edited by TheKingNoob
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Day Twenty-Three

Fnished moving in to my new place. Spent the entire day moving between apartments (about 10 mins apart) to haul stuff. New internet is way faster, got tempted hard to download some games real quick. Stayed off though. 

 

School starts again tomorrow. There goes my short holiday, I guess. Should go much better now that I dont distract myself so much just by having fames installed on my pc. 

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Day Twenty-Five

 

Already super busy with school, going to be a busy semester but there's some courses I really enjoy so it shouldn't be too hard to keep motivated. It can all go wrong if I don't keep myself disciplined -- especially in the weekends as I was last semester. So keeping track of that. 

Also bought a whiteboard to keep all my to-do stuff in front of me. I've used phone to-do-lists for a while but they're not that effective for me since there's so much potenial for distraction on the phone and I got used to ignoring notifications from those sorts of apps. Can't ignore a whiteboard though. Also like the feeling of writing on one. 

Keeping it up. 

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Hey!

At one point I wanted to get a whiteboard too. To write how many days of quarantine we were at, and write a to do list. I couldn't find one that fit my tiny desk though!

Wishing you luck on your goals and your semester!

Jason

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Day Twenty-Six

 

Plenty more of productive work. Only have internet connection on my laptop through ethernet, haven't set up a router yet for wifi. Mobile data is limited. Its actually making me more productive since I'm on my phone a lot less. 

 

I'm also more aware of not using my phone directly after waking up -- I try to take a shower of make breakfast first. Every small things help. 

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Day Twenty-Eight

Grilled a bit with some of my mates from out of town, chilled for a bit. Eventually got around to the topic of gaming and how I'm abstaining from it and how its been working out. They're also an avid gamer, so I think we can relate well. He mentioned how hard it was to quit and I gave him my input on it. Maybe he'll get something out of it, maybe not. Still, flad I'm pulling through. 

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2 hours ago, TheKingNoob said:

Day Twenty-Eight

Grilled a bit with some of my mates from out of town, chilled for a bit. Eventually got around to the topic of gaming and how I'm abstaining from it and how its been working out. They're also an avid gamer, so I think we can relate well. He mentioned how hard it was to quit and I gave him my input on it. Maybe he'll get something out of it, maybe not. Still, flad I'm pulling through. 

Ohhh, that sounds so awesome to me! Glad you were able to have this conversation! I kind of disconnected from my friends that had some serious chemistry with gaming (not due to games, just life in general), but I also hope to meet them here someday. Hope you keep it up 🙂

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