Battling Addiction

Addiction comes in many forms.  Not all of them will harm you physically or mentally, but none can be considered “good” for you.  Believe me, I’ve seen a sixty-year old runner so gaunt and frail-looking, I thought I should call 911 to follow her, just in case.

Recently, I overcame an addiction that I swore I wouldn’t even participate in to begin with: a social networking “game”.  I say “game” because there really isn’t much skill involved in it.  It’s not like you compete for a high score, even against yourself.  All that you do is complete simple goals, which can take as little or as much time as you want them to.  No offense to people who still enjoy those kinds of activities, but looking at it from this side of the fence, I now view them to be nothing but a time-suck.

At first, I only logged in on the weekends, treating it like other games that I’ve limited myself to this year.  Then I convinced myself that it wasn’t really a game (for the reasons listed above), and started checking it out once a day, which quickly turned to twice a day.  Then, I began to log onto it three times a day – once in the morning, at lunch and then again in the evening – but it quickly escalated to checking it out every couple hours, which is how long it took for my life bar to fill back up.  I began to realize that I was thinking about this online “world” of mine far more often than was healthy.  Even then, it took me a couple of weeks before I was able to let go of it completely.

Thankfully, I’ve never wanted to try any mind-altering drugs.  I gave up drinking alcohol when I was seventeen, and the one time I tried two puffs of a cigarette, I acted like Tom Hanks with the caviar in Big.

However, my little foray into the world of online social games helped me realize just how hard it can be to overcome something you’re addicted to.  Honestly, there was a small part of me that witnessed the descent into madness, but a larger part of me kept making excuses for my behavior, and didn’t want to hear any rationale.  Even after the “witness” grew larger and more vocal, it took weeks of me saying “I think I’m addicted to this”, or “I’m going to quit this soon” before I was finally stopped altogether.  And now that I’ve quit, I find I don’t even think about it.  I don’t miss it.  It’s been quite freeing, and quite an eye-opening experience.

I’ve done my best not to judge people who are addicted to things.  While I might not agree with certain lifestyle choices, I’ve always tried to maintain a “to each, their own” kind of mentality.  I especially hate how our society is making smokers out to be villains, and treating them like second-class citizens.  But, this recent episode has helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the various stages of addiction.  From the denial, to the lack of control, to the eventual release from it.  I’ve seen first-hand what it’s like to feel guilt over doing something that you’re not proud of, and hope people don’t judge you for it.  I’ve felt like a stranger in my own body, trapped by my habit.

I’m not poking fun here.  While an addiction to a social “game” isn’t even close to the same level as being addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, or stronger drugs, the addictive behavior is still the same.  I’ve gained a little more compassion for those who suffer from more serious addictions.  And hopefully, I’ll be able to see an upcoming addiction before it fully takes control over me.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kaye George
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 13:01:16

    Thanks for addressing this issue, Alyx. I think I have just a plain online addiction. The thought of turning the computer off horrifies me. I know I should set hours and stick to them, but it’s oh so seductive. I’m glad you beat your problem! I’m going to work on mine. Some day.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 12, 2011 @ 16:38:08

      I know what you mean about online addiction, Kaye. I remember when I first got on the internet, I was on it nearly 24/7 for the first 6 months. I’ve backed off since then, & now have a mostly-healthy relationship with it. However, I can see how hard it is to let go of it. Good luck on your own addiction. :o)


  2. Dana Fredsti
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 13:06:57

    I’ve avoided online games for this very reason… a habit easily slips into an addiction, which is then much harder to shake off!


    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 12, 2011 @ 16:43:47

      I don’t have a problem with regular games, because there’s a set beginning & ending to the level. But those social “games” (Farmville, Ravenwood, etc) have no set levels. They just go on & on, which make it harder for me to break from them. It’s like reading a James Patterson book…the chapters are so small that you think “just one more”, only to discover you’ve stayed up to 3 in the morning reading 20 “just one more” chapters.


  3. Kara Cerise
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 05:40:04

    Those online social games can be addictive especially when you receive help requests from friends! They are easy for me to turn to when I get blocked while writing. I’ll play for what I think is a minute then look at the clock and realize a chunk of time has slipped away. I have stopped as well.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 15, 2011 @ 10:21:58

      Yes, Kara. I never realized I was a magician, but I too am able to make a minute turn into hours when doing those sorts of games. Congratulations to you on stopping those. 🙂 And thank you for stopping by today.


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