Abstinence, wherefore hast thou been?

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Reality_takes_hold's picture
Last seen: 6 years 9 months ago
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Joined: 11/27/2010 - 1:13pm
Abstinence, wherefore hast thou been?

It's hard to express my pain, anguish, agony and the developments of my life since I first pledged to free myself from the vindictive web of video games... So i'll do it in a narrative.

Abridged (can't include the whole story!!)


Upon the outset of his life, he was not like others. He had a keen ability to see things that others could not, a immense creative pool that was left untapped by education, a void left by a lack of friends and family interactions. He was different, it was apparent in how we walked, talked and how he expressed himself. Unfortunately, this lead to a myriad of problems for the young lad. He lacked social acceptance, social skills, friends... He yearned to be loved and accepted and he desired his ideas to be viewed as good. He wanted to be a part of societies solutions but was continually discounted and shut out by his peers. Pessimism was being instilled into him and he began to doubt himself, if they cannot see the ideas as good than why bother?

The education system was a failed venture - a breeding ground for bullies and neglect of students who yearned to be taught but had teachers who either didn't care or were too far stretched to do any real good. Parents who rarely helped fill the gap. A society on the cusp of a technological breakthrough that would set us on a course of unknown origin. A child who yearned for acceptance, love, community, power, control and the ability to hide his physical appearance because society had labeled him as unworthy of approval.

Then came the escape. A land filled with magical creatures, and the boy had the ability to control the avatars of that world. It empowered him to have control - to be free of his physical persona and to be the hero. These lands began to expand, growing in size and scope - making the journey to a Hero only much more rewarding and enticing. He escaped to these worlds day after day, hoping to forget the pain that he had felt in the real world. Never realizing that he was inching closer and closer to the spiders web...

One day, his older brother discovered a new land, a land of magic and adventure, called Norrath. When this young boy discovered Norrath, he found everything he wanted. He created a character, a Monk, because he always wanted to learn Martial Arts. Entered the world and began to disassociate the real world. He dreamt of Everquest, he dreamt of his character and wished he could flee his life and enter therein. He suffered defeats and achieved victories. He was allowed into Guilds to join other people in the same pursuit and became a part of a community, and was largely accepted and admired for his writing abilities given his young age. Now a young man, this was his life. While his peers were outside playing, socializing, or reading books and learning new things - he ignored everything to feel accepted and loved. He felt empowered and in control for the first time. The spider's web had achieved its goal. The lure and promise of video games providing all these things had finally attached... The spider was upon the young man immediately and injected his venom - but little did the young man know - that rush of euphoria he felt was only the initial onset of the venom. The spider worked tirelessly over the next years to wrap the young man into a cocoon. One day the young man fell out of that web and into another spider's web, and was again injected with venom. Euphoria of a new world of adventure struck again - this time in Star Wars Galaxies. Wrapped again, unknowingly becoming a slave to the spider's will.

The young man grew older, his grades in school were dismal and eventually he forced himself to quit and in an act of young childishness, he joined the Army without considering the second and third order effects. Upon arrival, the spider's webs and venom were still in and around him. Through his basic training and job training, he would discover the price of those games... Those four months of abstinence finally provided him with a brief moment of clarity. The games had poisoned him... After two months of withdrawls, something happened... He began to notice he had power and control over his life. His leaders began to see the change and they molded him. During that time, he still strived for love and acceptance - so he began to attend church to find it. That worked... for awhile - we will discuss that later. Four months later he was 35 pounds lighter and had developed proficiency in all his soldier skills. Finally, an accomplishment! He returned home and those who "knew" him had no idea who he was anymore. A young man who had achieved a maturity they never envisioned. Of course, the impending war he was headed for played some into that...

Upon arrival to a new land, strange, but not so strange... he began to feel the venom again. He yearned for the rush of euphoria again. His unit turned out to be just as bad as the education system - immature young men and old men who were closed minded and refused new ideas or methodology. This was not where he could thrive... Due to finances and a lack of internet on his base in Germany, he decided to remain off the online games and played single player games. Then he deployed to a desolate place, a place that would forever change him...

Kuwait was a furnace of desolation, upon stepping off his aircraft and feeling the heat, his first instinct was he was standing behind a jet engine. Twas' not so, it was the fiery furnace of a midsummer wind in the desert. Fresh in country after a knee surgery only a month prior, being forced to deploy was difficult and painful. He was expected to perform just as well as any other soldier, regardless of injury. He wanted to, he strived to be accepted by those men who he was bound for war with. Alas, his intentions would not be met with kind regard. He proved himself a few times, but soldiers who are injured are looked at as malingerers, regardless of if they have a bone sticking out or a MRI proving injury. So, being labeled a malingerer even after surgery left him scarred and feeling like a second class citizen. The stigma attached dragged the young man into a pit of despair and he clawed the walls desperately trying to get the love and acceptance he wanted since he was a child. That stigma ruined him, but that will come later.

Day 1 in Iraq: the war starts... within a week the first car bomb went off within range to make your ears ring. Danger was established, anyday could be your last. He turned to the church for solace, he began to dig deeper into the philosophy and teachings of the church. Overtime, he began to be respected for his faith, by some but the stigma remained. He was noted to be an excellent driver, he pushed to have the best vehicle always ready for mission, always stocked and clean.

I will... let this story wean off because the length of the deployment was 15 months and so much happened in such a short time it could compromise the rest of the story...

On or about April 21, 2007... Everything changed. Contact! Enemy north in the bongo truck! Mount up! The trucks were on line, driving through open desert on a line 300 meters apart they intended to surround and destory the enemy combatent and his vehicle. The desert floor was a mirage, you couldn't tell a hole from straight land - thats when he saw it... a 4 foot ditch that we were headed for at around 45mph. The young man yelled, HOLD ON! With no seatbelt (to escape the truck in the event of a fire *which was common*) the young man slammed into the steering wheel and the windshield and was knocked unconscious. Upon waking up his Sergeant yelled at him to get back in the fight. After all, there is no time to succomb to wounds, we have a battle to get into! After the crash, they all suffered differing damages. The young man suffered memory loss, nerve damage and a Traumatic Brain Injury, but was fearful to report it due to the stigma already attached to him. He went a few weeks until the symptoms were too much to bear and was yelled at by his Battallion surgeon and PA who largely brushed the entire thing off. Then, a week later he was sent home on leave for 2 weeks. He was married in his church's temple, still suffering from the damages of the accident. Nearly 95% of his marriage photos were of him squinting due to light sensitivity. Upon return to Iraq his behaviors began to rapidly change... He stopped attending church and began playing video games, he felt like the accident may have shifted his memory back to a different level of maturity and understanding. The spider began to creep back in, and unbeknownst to him, the venom it shoots in doesn't get worked out, it remains dormant until a new injection of venom is recieved and than all reactivates - causing extreme harm.

Upon return from Iraq, he was moved to a new duty station in Texas. Ahhh, back to internet!!! The first thing he did before even unpacking his apartment with his new wife was setup the computer and internet. Began installing games and playing them. Overtime, he strived for new games, new excitement and adventure. Alas, he came to find Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and due to his PTSD he couldn't help playing it. Maybe he could be better, save his friends, kill all the bad guys and end the war.... At it's worst he was playing 40-60 hours a week. His wife in a state and city where she knew no one was struggling. Pregnant, she didn't know what to do... She saw her spouse crumbling and didn't know how to help him.. He began to succomb to anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and the only place he didn't feel those was in the game. She was torn, make him suffer here with me, or let him be at peace in the virtual world....

He began to see what was happening to him, he began to cut back and was successful. He now only played 20 or so hours a week (still a part time job), he began to research stuff on the internet like colleges and other things that he could improve his life, but this became the other 20 hours a week - he wasn't doing anything good, he was simply trading one addiction for another.

He attended universities and began to do well on the onset, but as the games began to seem more appealing and better for his being - he began to fail his classes. Then his Mother died, and his depression went out of control... For over a year he buried himself in the games, ignoring everything for them. Eventually he used all of his education benefits from the Army and lost majority of it to the games and depression. This only added to his feelings of defeat.

Years have gone by, he quits, he relapses, he quits, he relapses... but this time is different. Deleting his hard worked characters, acknowleding what is important. And mostly, determining his beliefs in life and finding a purpose.

The Age of Retreat has ended and the Dawn of Purpose has arisen. No longer!... Will he retreat to another world when his real world causes him harm or places him in bad situations - he will face them with courage, fortitude and the same passion and intelligence he applied to the games. He will shift his paradigms, shift his values and usher in a life of service, usefulness and achievement and will do everything he can naturally do to ensure the same venom never enters the veins of his children or himself ever again.

The Banner has risen, I, Reality_takes_hold, have beat the games. My abstinence began nearly a week ago and with each passing day I shall yield to a higher purpose, not one of religion - but one of conscious living and stoicism. Forward into the NEW DAWN!


It was easier for me to write that in a narrative and surprisingly therapeutic. I've quit multiple times before but most recently relapsed due to the Free to Play era... I've acknowledged my defeats and I'm ready to try again, but with a new vigor. I hope my story inspires others, I'm ready to be free form the venom of video game addiction - I'm ready to rule and conquer my dreams and I've finally eliminated the only person standing in my way...


We cannot succeed until we make our pain an integral part of our recovery. At the end, that pain will be a part of your prize, it will no longer be something we suffered under - but something we overcame.

Reality_takes_hold's picture
Last seen: 6 years 9 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 11/27/2010 - 1:13pm
Just to clarify a few

Just to clarify a few points, I'm almost 27, been playing games since I was maybe 7? But the real addiction came on around 12 years old with Everquest. I recently deleted my 88 SK with 2900aa and all my other box toons and it difficult but I can look forward now.

I've shifted my paradigms about games and I change most frequently through anger, so I found reasons to be mad at the games and funneled it into researching how they effected me. If you haven't read up on B.F. Skinner and his rat box - you MUST do it, and you'll soon realize you're doing the same thing in game.

Finished Dr. Doan's book Hooked on Video Games, but had been largely aware of these things and was working toward getting free from the games. His book was the last piece that made the hammer drop! (Thank you Dr. Doan!)

I'm 80 pounds overweight (mostly gained due to my TBI) but largely not removed since because of my inactive lifestyle and video game addiction. I'm setting goals to opening my own business, losing the weight, slowly attaining my Bachelor's degree and working on my parenting to make up for the lost time with my two young boys, in addition to working on ways to improve my marriage which has almost collapsed under my video game addiction multiple times.

The only thing that matters is the direction were going with purpose and momentum, whether you start like I did, over the course of 2 years slowly working up the courage, knowledge and strength to remove myself from the games. Or if you do it after reading this and realize it's your turn - just get off them! That venom is powerful and the brain is programmed to LOVE it (B.F. Skinner box)

I hope to be a more active participant in this community, I know I'll find the love and acceptance here because I'm sure we've all sought it in the games - and we know the price of not offering it freely without compromise.

Take care everyone!!


We cannot succeed until we make our pain an integral part of our recovery. At the end, that pain will be a part of your prize, it will no longer be something we suffered under - but something we overcame.

dan1's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 05/04/2012 - 6:42pm
Reality, Welcome back!  I


Welcome back!

I wish you the best in recovery. It sounds like you are doing a lot of things to help yourself. Here are the ways I've used the OLGA site:

1. Reading and posting on forums, which helps.

2. Going to meetings and making connections there with other folks, so that I can call them when things get rough or they can call me when needed,

3. Getting a sponsor and working the 12 steps and

4. Going to face to face meetings of other fellowships. (Not really a use of OLGA, but it helps me)

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I wish you the very best. See you at the meeting....

I am a recovering computer game and gambling addict. My recovery birthday: On May 6, 2012 I quit games and began working a program of recovery through OLGA No computer games or slot games for me since December 12, 2012. No solitaire games with real cards since June 2013.

Maggie's picture
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
OLGA member
Joined: 08/26/2013 - 6:59pm
Hi Reality, Thanks for

Hi Reality,

Thanks for sharing your story. I just want you to know that you are not alone. You really don't have to do this alone. I tried to quit on my own several times but failed miserably. I realized that it is ok to ask for help when I needed help. Because gaming is a powerful addiction for me, I do need alot of helps from others and that is the fact that I MUST accept (Step 1&2 of the 12-step program). What I need is the higher power greater than me (my HP and a recovery community like this one) to pull me from the hole of gaming addiction. Once that concept is realized and accepted, then I surrender to win.

I figure if I am going to succeed this time, I am going to give my recovery 110% effort just like when I was gaming. I found meeting is the most helpful in my recovery and I rarely missed my meeting in the first 30 days. I also created a personal blog to share with newcomers and I hope you will find it helpful.




It's good to have goals and dreams, but while you're waiting for things to change, waiting for promises to come to pass, don't be discontent with where you are. Learn to enjoy the season that you're in--Pastor Joel Osteen

Patria's picture
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 06/02/2011 - 1:55am
Hi Reality!!! So glad you

Hi Reality!!!

So glad you are here. I really am. It's been 2-1/2 years from my last game (all games, not just the big one called W.O.W.) and it was tough at first.

Your story is phenomenal. Keep writing, please.

What helped me was meetings, contact with other recovering gamers, my sponsor, and reading all the books on gaming addiction, and addiction, that I could find. I'm also a member of AA so it was easy for me to start the steps again.

I was also in the military (Vietnam era, although didn't serve in Vietnam) stationed in Washington D.C. I do not know anything first hand about your horrendous experience, but I can definitely feel a lot of compassion for what you and others went through and are still going through.

All I can say on that subject is I'd want to escape via a game, too.

But now we don't have to. Big big hugs! and please keep coming back.

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