Anyone who knows about Valley Recovery Center knows that we are big fans of “outside the box” recovery methods. Whether it’s Wolf Therapy, Archery or even Virtual Reality; if there’s evidence that it can help somebody overcome an addiction, we’ve got an open mind. Well, one of the newest treatments to make headlines is actually puzzle-based video games. Tetris, specifically, has been shown to make significant progress for people working their way through a drug or alcohol dependency.
Addictive Behaviors recently published the results of a lengthy study that showed how puzzle games can help re-focus the brain and allow players to distance themselves from traumas that occur after an addiction.
According to writer Beth Mole from Arstechnica.com, “Researchers report that Tetris seems to jumble the mind’s ability to process and store fresh traumatic memories. For those struggling with cravings or addiction, research has found that Tetris’ mental grasp can diminish the intensity of hankerings and help game players fight off real-life dependencies.”
Dubbed “Nintendo Therapy,” the prognosis was not to let those in treatment spend hours on end in front of the TV screen. Rather, it was recommended to sit with Tetris in short increments of roughly 20-30 minutes per day. Of the 31 recovery participants in the initial survey, 14 percent claimed that playing helped squash their addictive cravings.
For those unfamiliar, Tetris has been a popular Nintendo game since the 1980’s. Its sole purpose to fit puzzle pieces together and avoid an overcrowded screen. This particular title has become immensely popular with gamers around the world and is often referenced as the predecessor to popular apps like Candy Crush and Bejeweled (both of which were also shown to be successful recovery tools).
To us, the ultimate recovery success factor is Balance. Sure puzzle video games can be a productive outlet, but they should also be coupled with physical activity and interactions with support groups. Too much of anything can be detrimental and, yes, we have certainly heard of the dangers of video game addictions.
What makes Tetris unique, however, is its simplicity. This is not one of those mindless online shoot-em-ups that keeps guys’ locked in their basements. Tetris involves real brain power, much like crosswords and Sudoko (both of which we also recommend for recovery). It also has a rewarding component for a job well done, praising players for their problem-solving abilities.
Games like Tetris also offer a nice sense of relief for people that need a break from therapy or recovery sessions. Tools like this can be very useful during the treatment process and we applaud Addictive Behaviors for continuing to explore new methods to help people get clean. Who knows? You may even see Nintendo Therapy on the VRC regimen in the weeks to come…