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Video Games As A Sobriety Tool

Recently, the topical news website published a story that approaches sobriety from a unique point of view. Speaking to former users of various ages, it showcased how home video games helped them during (and after) their recovery. Now we know that every person is unique and requires a different type of treatment regimen. But this outlet does seem to show some success and soothe certain cravings for drugs and alcohol.


The piece starts out by clearly stating that there is no research affiliating video game use with recovery. But data has shown that systems like the Nintendo Switch and the Playstation 4 have helped manage stress levels for people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD). The game Tetris, in particular, illustrated positive results for trauma victims, interrupting intrusive memories that were disturbing to certain sects.


The Vice story honed in on the different types of games available and how they can work on different types of personalities. Puzzlers, for example, create repetition and focus; giving players a feeling of control. Mutliplayer games have also shown success, allowing for interaction and team building (sports titles are a good example of this).


On the topic of team games, Betty Ford addiction counselor Zach Hansen praised their results during the early stages of recovery.


“A big part of early recovery is having structured meaningful activity,” Hansen told VICE. “If you’re using [games] to build connections—to add some structure to your life—especially in the first stages of recovery, that can be healthy.”


Single player games were also cited as a positive outlet. In those scenarios, participants can use the opportunity for reflection, solitude and exploration throughout virtual worlds.


Alex D., an anonymous former addict who was interviewed for VICE, explained how he has benefitted from the single player format; particularly when it comes to role playing games (or RPGs).


“RPGs dovetail very neatly into my addiction issues,” he explained. “Escapism is a big part of RPGs, and not just in the limited sense of wanting to be somewhere or someone else. It’s an opportunity to explore aspects of yourself that don’t really get to come out in normal human In interactions. The chance to experience a world or a story through another set of eyes is really valuable to me.”


Meanwhile, Brandon N., found solace in more simple games, such as the popular Nintendo title, Mario Kart.


“I found that you can play Mario Kart and have really deep engagements with other online players,” he added. “I found it to be a very helpful experience.”