Long story - feel free to skip to the questions at the end of it!
I've been addicted to wow since it came out. At first we were playing in evenings together with my boyfriend, so it seemed harmless. Soon I started spending more and more time online in daytime as well, set virtual goals and level alt on different server. I had freelance work and lots of time to play.
4 month later I broke ties with my most important client (close to 90% of the jobs) "because of feeling tired all time and not having time to rest". While it was somewhat true, often I was asked to come to work in last minute, so I couldn't really plan any online activity and became unreliable player to my guild. Then followed a year of intensive playing, very few jobs and destroyed relationships.
Year later I quit wow for first time. Relocated. Started to study. All went well for few month - I studied, got new friends, new relationships. Unfortunately the new relationships didn't work as well as I had thought.In no time I was back to wow. 3 year period of co-dependency followed. In fact, it seemed, that my boyfriend prefered me spending time online over any other activity - be it working on projects or going out with friends. I still managed to finish studies as one of the top students, but didn't find motivation to look for projects after that or even do self-promotion. So I had a game and very little work to do. Was game-free 3 month before WotLK release, but then boyfriend gave me WotLK as a gift and I was hooked again.
2 years ago I made a second serious break. Started working on real life goals, got some jobs, then more jobs. Analyzed my life, relationships. And left the co-dependant partner.
It felt really strange at first. In few month I hit the rough spot in life and intentionaly tried to get back to the game, just to discover that it didn't take my thoughts away from the problems. I was alone with them. There was noone else, who could take the responsibility and I had to solve them myself. When Cata came out I played demo for 10 days and then left it again. I told to myself - all right, if you want to enjoy the sights now and then - go and play, but don't you dare to set even one virtual goal! And for time it worked. There was some newly found freedom in it. Some month I played for few days, most of the time I did not. Wow had lost it's appeal and I ended with 7 month without any subscription at all.
Then the hardest relapse occured this year in January. I grew tired of winter and darkness and decided to renew account just to fly around and enjoy the scenery. At first there was still no signs of addiction. I looked at the green hills, admired design, picked up some herbs. No raiding, no pvp, no dungeons. In mid January I decided to try out a rp server. Rolled new alt and there it went - unknowingly I had set myself a new virtual goal and then another one and another one. Luckily I needed just a bit more than one month to realize, what is happening, but I felt guilt and shame much stronger than ever before. After two years of not playing or very casual playing, I had given in again!
Now I've been wow-free since 21st of February and I will do my best to stay this way.
Soon I discovered OLGA forums and started reading threads here, including researches on dopamine, which made me go completely game-free since 1st of March. And now there are some questions:
How long would it take for brain to heal, assuming, that this time I'm staying clean of the offline games as well - at least for full healing period?
What could be the harmless and very cheep rewards, that I could use to make myself perform the activities, that would lead to real life goals (as there is no instant gratification just for performing tasks and it could a minimum one year without any gratification to move forward to any of them)?