Doubts about video game addiction therapy

I’ve been thinking about addressing my gaming addiction lately. I don’t believe I have given it so much time and thinking before, but I feel there is a literal wall standing in the way.

I’ve always known I had a problem. At least a leaning that I struggle to combat if I ever want to walk away for a bit. It’s not like I am shackled to the computer and it destroys my life, but I do get cranky when I am unable to play for whatever reason, and it makes it hard to put time for other things that require focus (work, some courses I’ve taken, etc.) Finding joy in different things is always challenging and even then, finding joy in gaming is also becoming more and more difficult.

I have a family therapy session with my parents next week, and I know they at least expect me to address this. This is not an issue I like to talk about, and I notice how my physiological anxiety response comes up whenever they mention videogaming even in an indirect way. It really goes back to my childhood. So I don’t really know what to expect from that session if it is brought up, either by myself or them. I imagine bringing it up myself would at least allow me to control the conversation a bit and help me stay calmed, but that’s just a guess.

The breaking point came a few months ago. My mother began casually talking about some domestic violence case related to VGA, and as she progressed it became obvious she was talking about it because of me. In my mind it was disheartening to think that she believes I am capable of doing harm to them because of a computer game. This kind of narrative makes it difficult to even talk about it, and justifies closing to a change.

Anyway, I was the other way googling about VGA therapy. Seriously considering engaging on it. But the first result I got was an organization with a logo of a controller shackled to an arm. It just rubbed me the other way. I suppose I don’t envision myself engaging in therapy if it becomes hostile to gaming. I have made friends online and I would hate to lose contact. I don’t know, maybe that’s defensive rationalization, but I find it difficult to break through that line of thought.

Has anyone ever taken VGA therapy? How does it work? Does it use a full cut off from gaming, or does it take a more gradual approach?

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Hey @ElMarto,

I think it is absolutely brilliant that you acknowledge that there is a problem and that you want to address it. That’s a huge step and doubtlessly one to be seen as a big achievement. Your awareness about this is amazing. You see how if affects work and also your mood.

You’re right that you can influence how the conversation goes when it is you who brings up the topic during your therapy sessions. You have all my respect for intending to do so. That’s very impressive. Do you also have the possibility to speak about that with your therapist 1:1? Maybe this would be easier and you’d have the chance to discuss with your therapist how to open up about that. Of course, this depends on your relationship with your parents. The fact that your family is seeing a therapist together is great. I can imagine though that some things are worth to be discussed in a setting that allows you to speak about your VGA without having to fear/think about your parents’ reactions. Maybe you could also bring up that it hurts you what your mother said about domestic violence related to VGA.

I don’t know about VGA therapy in particular, rather more general addiction-related therapy. While there are always some things to consider for the particular type of addiction, there is a common denominator in what addictions are about, why they are there, and what you’re trying to distract yourself from, things like that.

There is always the option to either try tapering/moderation or to abstain completely and then maybe integrate gaming back into your life once you’ve sorted things out. The intention behind the behavior is what is decisive. Does it serve you to numb feelings and as a distraction or is it for some entertainment and is it you who determines how much time you spend with it or is it the addictive part?

No one is going to take that away from you and usually therapy should be individualized and meet you where you’re at. What matters is that you’re honest with yourself. If you cannot imagine abstaining for some time at first, it is also okay to successively reduce the hours you spend gaming. It is always about taking one step at a time.

Once you’ll start doing so, there will be time for other activities where you can make new friends. I totally understand that it’s so difficult to lose your gaming friends. Is there a way to stay in touch with the ones you value a lot outside of the gaming world?

That’s not VGA specific, but I hope still somewhat useful. You’re making a great effort to improve your well-being with that. That’s definitely something to be very proud of!

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From: Sh6dow

Its amazing that you aknowledge that you do have a problem! It also souns like you want to cut down on your addiction. It all really just depends. If you want to keep playing, I’d suggest mapping out a plan. Creating a time limit you have per-day and making it so that through your router, you can shut off a device when its been on too long. I too have VGA, but I’m happy not changing it. I’d like to not change anything because its apart of who I am. I prefer to help others rather hurt, so I won’t change anything. If ya’ll saw how many hours i had on LC in 3 months ya’ll would be surprised XD. I’d suggest cutting down/stop playing in general if its an issue, or put a time limit on.

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Hi there,

I am so proud of you for taking some time to reflect on this part of your life that has taken over a good chunk. I am also proud of you for coming to the HeartSupport Wall to seek out words of encouragement & support.

One thing that I would like to suggest to you is to find something to replace video games and something you enjoy doing but it brings meaning & purpose to your life. Discover nature. Connect with people IRL. Find a new hobby you enjoy like painting, crafting, or pottery. Spend time in the sunshine.

You are worthy. You are valid. You are important. You matter. :yellow_heart:

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From: ᏒᎧᏕᎥᏋ

Hi Friend, I’ve never been thru VGA therapy, but I have experience with addiction. It sounds like you’re preparing yourself for the subject to come up in therapy, but are you ready to quit? Therapy only works if you want it and put in the work. I would think it would be cold turkey and uninstall the games, but I’m not 100%. I would talk to your therapist more about it when it gets brought up and see what your options. ~Mystrose

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From: Lisalovesfeathers

Hey Friend, Thank you for your Post, its good to hear from you, Firstly I would like to say that I am really proud of you for coming forward and admitting that you do think you already have a problem, that takes courage but I understand you dont want people bringing that up by your family and you dont want them taking stories that link the addiction to violence, im sure that can be incredibly frustrating however im sure Mum is worried and she is your mum so she is allowed. You are never too old to be worried about. I do not know anything about VGA but I certainly think if you would like to give it a try and you think it could help it would be worth a go, if you are worried about what happens there, have a look online and see if you can find what others have said about it or even write an email to the place and ask questions before you agree to go, you can always refuse and you can leave when you get there, you dont have to do anything you do not want to do. I do think you should give it a shot though for yourself if not for anyone else. You are awesome and again, im so proud of you. We are here for you. Take care Much Love. Lisa xx

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From: SuchBlue

Hi ElMarto,

You don’t have to commit to VGA therapy, but I don’t see how giving it a try would hurt. If you dedicate enough time I’m sure that you will become the person that you wish to be. It can be very hard to fully quit, and I don’t see why you should either, to me video games are okay if you don’t spend too much time :man_shrugging:

Maybe try to explore and find other things that you like that aren’t so addictive, I’m sure there’s something that you can find :hrtlegolove:
We are here to support you and follow you through this journey. Stay strong :hrtlovefist:

From: Taladien

Hey ElMarto,

Thank you so much for coming here and sharing your story. Though I have not going through VGA therapy, I have used video games in my past as an escape when I didn’t want to face life issues that were happening. You acknowledging that you know you have an issue is a big step forward. Now, the hard part comes: finding the energy and will to fully face it. I hope and trust that your family has the best intent and interest for you, even if they may be a bit mis-lead about violence and video game correlation. As for the uncertainties, maybe you can call ahead, and ask some questions directly to the counselor without your family listening in. Or, you could ask for 1 on 1 time with them. At any rate, I wish you the best luck, and hope you will come back and let us know how it’s going. You are loved, and you matter, friend.

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From: sea__kay

Hey ElMarto, the most important step is acknowledging that there is a problem when you realize that it has a negative impact on your life. Do you wish to do other things instead and aren’t you really free to do these things because you’re drawn to gaming? When your own impression is that you cannot decide that freely anymore, it’s a great step to take action and do something about it. There is a recovery community called SMART which is for all types of addictions. They have online meetings and provide many behavioral tools to abstain from addictions. There is also a 12-step program for VGA. Usually, you can just listen in during these online meetings to get an idea of what that looks like. Talking about this openly with your family and your therapist would be a good step, too. I wish for you to be able to create your life as you want to. You’re loved and you matter.

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