What I would say to parents

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Lisa3333
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What I would say to parents

EDIT: For more information about problems with mental health and addiction see http://www.olganon.org/forum/discussion-parents-olg-anon-members-only/mental-health-and-gaming-addiction

First, I want to share I am a recovering video game addict.  I didn't begin playing video games regularly until my stepson introduced me to them when I was in my 40's.  I was an adult, life was good, I was unaware that video games could even be an addiction.  I am also a recovering alcoholic and had been sober for years and so know to stay away from mood altering substances.  I have alcoholism in my family tree and know addiction is genetic and to be cautious. 

All that said, no one told me or you or your kids that video games could be addictive.  I started gaming and within 8 years, my life was as if a nuclear bomb had dropped on it.  In many ways my video game addiction was more severe and caused more destruction both in my external life as well as internally in my sense of identity, self-esteem, ambition, etc, than my alcoholism. 

I have been free of video games for almost 2 years now and can say that for this recovering alcoholic/addict, from what I experienced, from hearing other recovering video game addicts share similar experiences, from doing the research into the latest findings in scientific and medical journals which are showing that video games can affect the brain chemistry and structure (via MRI/catscan images) similar to excessive use of stimulant drugs like methamphethamine or cocaine, I have zero doubt that video games overstimulate the brain and are a digital drug which, like alcohol or other drugs, will cause a percentage of the population to become addicted. 

The only solution when this happens is abstinence. 

When addiction happens, the outward symptoms mimic a lot of mental health diseases.  As an addict, whether I am 16 or 55:

*   I will lie, blame, threaten, act antisocial, be depressed, anxious, etc when I am gaming. 
*   I will con you or any therapist and make you believe the problem is my "depression" or you or anything other than my video games.  I will be successful in conning you and doctors for the simple reason that I believe it myself when I am actively in my addiction. 
*   No amount of psychiatric drugs or therapy will work. 

The amazing thing is, once the drug (video games) is completely removed, I will become a normal, sane, social, healthy person - it might take a little time (recovery on average takes about 9-24 months for brain chemistry to detox/stabilize). 

I see the tremendous number of young kids and adults and the parents of them whose lives are in chaos - who have been told they/their child have some mental illness simply because no one recognized they were in active addiction. 

I guess my purpose of sharing this to parents is to let you know you are doing the right thing to remove video games completely from your child's life if you suspect they are playing a role in the problems and to not let anyone, especially your child, convince you you aren't being fair or that the problem is something else. 

If video games can take down someone who had a healthy life and was in their 40's, 50's, and 60's, the way it has to a number of us recovering video game addicts, I cannot begin to comprehend the damage it is doing to young people, especially those whose brains are still developing. 

 

Hugs, Lisa Video game free since 4/17/2014

hurting Mom
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Wow--great post, and very

Wow--great post, and very helpful to me.  Thanks for sharing.

tmiller246
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Just took away Xbox and now in withdrawal:HELP

HI,

lisas as story helps me know I'm doing the right thing. I just feel I need more guidance as he withdraws and recovers. The Xbox live component seems to be the major addiction but do I take away his phone and iPad too? Does that slow or stop the brain recovery?  Any help will be so appreciated. I feel like if I do this right the first time, I can avoid more serious problem later. This addiction has systematically dissolved his life. 

Polga
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Smart phones and I-pads; if

Smart phones and I-pads; if your child is always on them then they are a problem too. I would give them a flip phone instead.

INFO

Parent's online meeting THURSDAY 9pmEST/EDT click here

Online meetings gaming addicts click here

Spouses/SO's of addicts click here

Parents of addicts click here for advice

Help for video game addicts click here

Please help! Donate here

May Light
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Hi tmiller246,

Hi tmiller246,

In short, what we are trying to do is give their brain a chance to recover. So that they can reason like other normal people; they can plan for their future, they have emphaty, they are motivated, they have compassion, love, decision making abilities etc etc. To achieve this gaming has to stop completely for months if not years. That doesn't mean that it is safe for them to return gaming after a period of time. If they can't moderate then they need a life away from gaming. 

To answer your question-- since he is only 14 and under your supervision, he should not be on any device which is stopping him from recovery. If he is on his smart phone playing or watching games, it has to go too. We can interfere much easily when they are still young, (under 18). But once they are older or officially adults and making their own money and buying their own electronic devices, it gets complicated. It is best to tackle with this issue when they are still juniors. Good luck!

"The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past. You can't go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches." "The first step toward change is acceptance." "Once you accept yourself, you open the door to change. That's all you have to do." "Change is not something you do, it's something you allow."- Will Garcia

dadof6
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Do gamers ever "hit bottom" like some alcoholics ?

Do gamers ever "hit bottom" like alcoholics ?

 

dadof6

Polga
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Welcome dadof6

Welcome dadof6

Yes they can. but it can take many years to get there

If they are being enabled, then they may never get there.

INFO

Parent's online meeting THURSDAY 9pmEST/EDT click here

Online meetings gaming addicts click here

Spouses/SO's of addicts click here

Parents of addicts click here for advice

Help for video game addicts click here

Please help! Donate here

May Light
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Hi dadof6. I am sorry for

Hi dadof6. I am sorry for your dilemna. Since your son has some medical issues and you are suspicious of the side effects of the medication, I think you are on the right track of addressing this issue first. 

He doesn't go to school because of health issues and he has pain. It is a very dangerous combination and a good excuse for gaming. It is his digital drug! He is in pain, probably lonely and has a lot of time in his hand...

Hitting the bottom is a concept which may not be applicable to your son at this stage because he has medical issues. For them to hit the bottom there should be no enabling including no roof over their head, no financial support, etc. But in your son's case, could you do that ? Even more importantly is it fair on him? He is there partially due to his medical conditions. What I would suggest is declare your home "game free" if it is possible. It may include cutting of the internet or buying a router which provides internet to certain devices but not others in the household. But he needs to understand that you are doing this because you love him and gaming is detrimental to his health. You are not doing it to him as a punishment..They need our love and understanding more than ever. Not allowing gaming at home yet doing it with care, understanding and love is not an easy combination and takes time to achieve.

Good luck! Please let us know if you need us to share our journey which might give you some ideas about what else you could do.

All the best!

"The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past. You can't go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches." "The first step toward change is acceptance." "Once you accept yourself, you open the door to change. That's all you have to do." "Change is not something you do, it's something you allow."- Will Garcia

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So proud of you !

So proud of you for being game free ! What helped you to become game free? Was there a turning point in your life that caused it ? 

Mama Bear

Polga
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Hi Poym

Hi Poym

Here are some of Lisa's comments about her feelings when she quit; basically she had  the self realisation that she could no longer tolerate the pain of continuing her gaming life;  the point commonly known in addiction terms as " hitting rock bottom"

http://www.olganon.org/comment/257921#comment-257921

http://www.olganon.org/comment/256724#comment-256724

http://www.olganon.org/comment/256722#comment-256722

http://www.olganon.org/comment/254481#comment-254481

http://www.olganon.org/comment/263162#comment-263162

 

INFO

Parent's online meeting THURSDAY 9pmEST/EDT click here

Online meetings gaming addicts click here

Spouses/SO's of addicts click here

Parents of addicts click here for advice

Help for video game addicts click here

Please help! Donate here

dwads1220
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Son now home from internet gaming rehab - now what??

I am posting this as a cautionary tale for all you families out there struggling with the big questions about this disease.   Make no mistake - it is a real addiction, a disease.  It took us years to come to this realization and to wrap our heads around it.  Our beautiful, brilliant and successful son had his life derailed by video games, internet gaming and other forms of technology - iphone, netflix, youtube.  It really didn't matter - if it was a screen he was watching.   Primarily though he got lost in the multiplayer online gaming world.   He had been a very successful high school student winning accolades for his academics, athletics, music as well as having a 32 ACT score.  As a result he was accepted to one of the top engineering schools in the country (with a 20% acceptance rate) to study mechanical engineering.  

Allow me to back up a bit.  He started gaming in Middle school and of course his use escalated (as it always does - the more you game, the more you need it).  In high school we thought we were monitoring it but later came to find that after my husband and I went to bed he would game until 3-4 am - on school nights!!! In spite of this he was successful although always tired.  He was captain of his varsity tennis team and they were state champs.  He played varsity football his senior year.  I say this because as his parent I could never have predicted what was about to happen to us.

With trepidation we bundled him off to college (my gut was screaming that he wasn't ready) with his shiny new windows computer to be used for all those difficult engineering homework in his future.  

My son has ADHD and anxiety and, as I've come to learn, this is the #1 risk factor for video game addiction.   Read that again!   Through all the mental health counseling we sought for his ADHD noone ever mentioned that this was an issue.  Noone!!    All the psychologists we saw for testing and for CBT were told about his preoccupation but they all dismissed my concern.  My husband didn't back me up and my son would call me crazy.  Irregardless, my mom alarm was blaring constantly.  I thought maybe I was overreacting and overblowing it.  I recently read the book "Cyber Junkie" by Kevin Roberts and I would tell any of you suffering with this in your homes to read it.  It was written in 2010 (10 years ago!)   Had I read this book then it would have saved us untold pain and money, not to mention my son from the time, grief, loss, shame, regret and embarrasment and loss of friends.

His first year of college his grades were not good but not horrific and we thought it was the level of diffiulty of the course work and the fraternity life he so wanted for himself.  That was also a nightmare - it lasted a year and he was hazed mercilessly which fed his anxiety which led to more isolation and gaming.  For the next three years, he would do barely what was required for him to stay in school and would plead with us that he was "getting it" and would do better going forward.  He kept his dark secret.   I so wanted to believe.  He is my only child.  He wasn't involved in anything wholesome, that I knew.

He was successfully getting through his summer internships and received glowing job reviews.  He was offered a lucrative position as a mechanical engineer this last summer but it is predicated on him graduating.

I'm getting ahead of myself again.  During his junior year his beloved long distance girlfriend (a gem) broke up with him during midterms becauses she felt she wasn't a priority.  He was gaming on her birthday and (as he suffers from time blindness when he's gaming) he forgot.  The last straw!!!  From that point on, to escape the pain of his life, he spiraled into his addiciton and by the end of his senior year he had failed out of school.  

We had paid for a top private university for 4 years and had zilch to show for it.  This is where we were in May of 2019.   He had his internship set up for the summer and we decided after much discussion with his therapist that he should be allowed to fulfill his obligation. He successfully got through the summer.   As he was leaving for his internhip he left his gaming computer and all the paraphenalia with me ( I wanted to take a bat to it).  He took his PS4 and of course his iphone with him.  The company gave him use of a monitored company computer.  

While he was away I made contact with a internet gaming rehab center and started planning for what would come next.  Through tears, and the angst of a mother's heart, we decided the only thing that would work was "tough love" and we were so emotionally spent at that point, so broken hearted and living in thick grief, that we were dedicated to seeing our plan through.  

We sent in our deposit, chose a date, bought a one way plane ticket to the west coast (we're on the east coast) and arranged for an interventionist to come to our home.  We knew nothing about what would or could happen.  I felt that when faced with two choices - of going to rehab or going on the street (without any support from us) that he would not make it to the end of the driveway, but I didn't know.  He would be giving up the one thing he loved and needed more than anything else in the world and that wouldn't go over well.  

During the intervention he agreed to go so, per his credit, he made a difficult choice to get help.   

On August 21, 2019 my husband accompanied my beautiful and brilliant and hoplessly addicted son to rehab.  

After 6 months, nearly to the day, we received him back.  It was an amazing experience.  He has not gamed nor shown any interest in gaming.  He has been home a month and still does not have his iphone.  He has a dumb phone (a gab wireless). He found a job, a spring internship in the business he was pursuing at the other internship and he has a new girlfriend.   He learned many life skills but most importantly, he learned about himself and his addiction and benefited from untold hours of therapy, groups, 12 step meetings, etc.  I personally think we all should have 6 months of that.  He learned to cook healthy meals, exercised regularly and spoke to us once a week, most of the time with respect.  

He's home.  He's getting well (it takes a full year to come off gaming but he will be an addict for life).  Our relationship took a real hit.  I love him unconditionally, him not so much.  I was the nag, the police the one to hide from at all cost and so there is trauma on both sides.     He still has poor executive function and procrastinates terribly but I believe things will continue to get better.  I continue to talk and he continues to shut me out (but some gets in).  He's lived out of our home now for 5 years so its tough for the both of us.  He will go back for another summer internship at the same company that offered him the job and when he returns he will return to a different more local school to finish his degree (not sure how that will be done yet as his gpa is dismal).  He could go back to his university but doesn't want to as it's full of bad memories and it could be a trigger to relapse.  Also it's 900 miles away from us.  

So wish us well.  It' been quite a journey and it's not close to over but its better - so much better.   Here's to hope but, parents, you need to be strong and do the unthinkable - tough love.   It's the only way it could have helped our son. 

dwads1220
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Addendum to above

I also want to make clear what coming home looks like.  We have a concise Boundaries list.  He won't step too far out of bounds or he knows we will take action.  As long as he's not gaming, every day is a good day and one day closer to a better llfe.    I don't know if he'll ever be same person.  

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Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking but hopeful journey!

Hello Dwads, Thank you for being here and for sharing your heartbreaking, but hopeful  journey.  Here is another journey that did not end so well...this show is from Dr. Phil, February 20, 2020. This is just one clip of the show. There are more clips on his website: https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow/videos/a-14-year-old-who-is-addicted-to-video-games-describes-a-typical-day-in-his-life/485409592125707/

As a parent, we need to be strong when we set the rules for our children. I believe that is tougher on us, then it is on them.....

Dwads, Keep us posted on how your son is doing.

Liz Woolley

Maa
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Hi,

Hi,

I am going through exactly same situation like yours. i have no backup at all from my husband. I am devastated, heart broken, do not know where to get help from, I am just lost.  I would like to know where is this internet gaming rehab center, so i can  send him there too.Appreciate your kind help.

God's Grace

Polga
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Welcome !

Welcome !

There is a rehab called reStart in Washington state

INFO

Parent's online meeting THURSDAY 9pmEST/EDT click here

Online meetings gaming addicts click here

Spouses/SO's of addicts click here

Parents of addicts click here for advice

Help for video game addicts click here

Please help! Donate here

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