Fighting Drug Cravings with Video Games: What You Need to Know
The journal of Addictive Behaviors published a study finding videogames effective in helping to curb cravings of drug use by 56 to 70 percent. Researchers tested two control groups, one which would play tetris to reduce cravings for their substance of choice, and the other group did not indulge in the mind numbing puzzle epic. With just three minutes of play the group with access to Tetris reported significantly lower needs to use addictive substances. The study was conducted over the duration of one week, and concludes, with traditional rehabilitation, people recovering from substance use disorders can benefit from playing video games as an alternative outlet of expression- if played in moderation.
That’s right guys, you don’t get a free pass to waste your lives away with video games!
Medical News Today quotes Jackie Andrade of the School of Psychology and the Cognition Institute of Plymouth University,
“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine somet
hing vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”
Keeping this in mind, any craving might be effectively combated with video games, including the compulsion to overeat, cut, drink, or other self-deprecating behaviors.
It’s critical to note, playing video games cannot become the only means of battling cravings, traditional recovery means inclusive of therapy, treatment, remaining active, and expanding social groups are absolutely essential in preparing recovering addicts to re-enter society as fully functioning participants. You don’t want to become that guy who only talks about video games, do you?
Although the study was conducted with Tetris, other video games which are “visually” appealing should serve the same purpose. The same way literature helps to develop empathy and curb cravings, an engaging storyline may offer the same benefits.
Hellblade, which doesn’t yet have a release date, is a video game immersing players into the realm of mental illness and delirium. So if you’re going to choose a video game to indulge yourself in earnest to battle the cravings of addiction, you could try to find games with a purpose!
Choosing an online based video game can help you connect to millions online, and assist you in cultivating your social skills by interacting with real people while you game, but setting a time as to how much time you devote to gaming may be helpful- as there are many who develop video game use disorders. Remember the original study asked participants to play Tetris for three minutes!
Perhaps more surprising, in the competitive gaming world, using enhancing substances to improve performance is a thing! Play careful attention to those in your company, as you do not want your efforts to reduce cravings to lead you back into the realm of substance abuse.
What do you think about using video games to help fight cravings?
About the Author
JessiRae Pulver-Adell is an addiction & recovery blogger for Harbor Village. She writes to elucidate the disease of addiction and is an activist for the homeless and animals. She enjoys furry creatures, Jrock, and towering bookshelves! Have a story or a pitch to share? Email her directly at Jupveradell@harborvillageflorida.com.