Video Game Addiction

In today’s modern home a personal computer (PC) is the central hub for much of our communication and entertainment. As more and more day to day activity becomes linked to the PC most households own at least one of them. But a PC is not only a tool for communication and learning, it can also be used to play video games, and many of them can be accessed for free through the internet.

5e9fd9d21b1b12e59a1d749917785923Gaming addiction is becoming a serious problem in the younger generations. We are seeing a huge rise in the amount of teens and young adults that are addicted to video games, more so PC than gaming consoles (i.e. Xbox, Playstation, etc.). This largely has to do with how accessible PCs are compared to consoles which are relatively more expensive. Games like World of Warcraft and League of Legends attract millions from around the world on a daily basis, offering them adventure and excitement that they might not otherwise feel they can get. The community base of these games is huge, connecting people from every corner of the globe. But there are many players that become more concerned with in-game interactions than what is going on in their everyday life.

Gaming addiction is characterized by the following:

  • Preoccupation with the game (thinking about the game even when not playing or planning when you can get back to playing sooner)
  • Withdrawal symptoms like irritability or mood swings when unable to play or attempting to cut down
  • The need to play for more time or play more exciting games to get the same amount of excitement
  • Feeling like you need to cut back but you are unable to
  • Spending less (or no time) doing things other than gaming
  • Continuing playing despite lack of sleep, being late to work/school, spending more money than you should, and neglecting other responsibilities
  • Lying to friends and family about just how much you play
  • Losing important opportunities in relationships and career because you would rather game
  • Using gaming as an escape from negative feelings

Gaming addiction has been getting increased attention from professionals as more and more people are being drawn in. In the last 10 years, significant advances have been made in just how much we know about gaming addiction. It has come to light just how serious this problem is, especially in adolescents and young adults. It is estimated that between the ages of 12-18, many children are getting up to 7 hours a day of “screen time”. 

This means that the majority of time that these children are not asleep or at school, they are on their computer. Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft are huge part of this problem. These games require time commitments to learn and iStock_000004161479Small2-300x225participate in, drawing people in with new tasks and rewards. There are extremely tragic cases of addiction to these games, causing deaths after marathon gaming sessions and causing the addicted to act out in ways that they might not have normally. There are too many cases where a young person’s life is destroyed because of their gaming addiction.

Too much of something tends to be a dangerous thing. If an alcoholic drinks too much at once, they can suffer from alcohol poisoning. If a drug addict uses too much, they can overdose. No matter what you do, if you place too much stress on your body you will injure it, and if go too far you can die. So it should come as no surprise that playing games too much can have serious consequences.

Deaths related to game addiction have mostly occurred after/during a marathon gaming session. These sessions last more than just hours, they can last for days. Many players go without food, sleep, or movement other than their hands and fingers during these sessions, and continuously putting their bodies through these sessions has serious repercussions on their health. Commonly we sleep disorders, malnutrition, and a complete lack of physical activity in those that are addicted to video games. Just as alcohol or drugs can destroy a person’s body, not fulfilling your body’s basic needs can as well. Let’s take a look at a few of the deaths that are related to gaming addiction.

  • Wang Gang of China collapsed and died after obsessively playing Dungeon Fighter in an internet café. Wang had been living in the internet café for months, having dropped out of college and cut his family out of his life. It was said that Wang would take very few breaks, consisting of a few hours of sleep each time. Due to his gaming habits, Wang became extremely thin and malnourished, possibility contributing to his death.
  • League of Legends claimed the life of Chen Rong-yu, a gamer that spent a continuous 23 hours playing.  It was concluded that his heart attack was caused by a combination of lack of movement, fatigue, and cold weather.
  • A 40 hour session of Diablo III is what claimed the life of Chuang, and 18 year old Taiwanese man. Chuang was left to play in a private internet café room for 40 hours, without food or drink on hand. He was woken by a staff member that found him resting in the morning of his last day. Chuang collapsed, dying shortly after arriving at the hospital. It is suspected that he died of a blood clot.

In addition to the health problems, we also see a large impact on the social interactions in the lives of those affected by gaming addiction. Those with gaming addictions tend to withdraw into the gaming community, choosing to develop their online relationships and ignore their real life relationships. It is fair to say that they are still participating in some form of social interaction, but at what cost? Isolation seems to be the key factor in the development of this addiction, despite their interactions with other players online. The fact of the matter is that many people play with others that they have never met face to face, and they may never meet them face to face. This is a resulting in a breakdown of what we might consider to be a more traditional friendship. The issue with this is that spending extended periods of time in front of the computer is not healthy, no matter how old or young you are. If you don’t have any outside relationships to participate in, you are more likely to spend that extra time in front of your computer.

As with any addiction, recovery needs to be the choice of the addicted. Scare tactics aren’t often enough to help them realize what a big impact their gaming is having on their lives. So what can you do to support your loved one through their addiction?

gameaddictionFirst and foremost, let them know that you are there when they need you. Keeping lines of communication open between you and your loved one is so important. It may be the real world connection that they need to pull them outside of the game.

Secondly, ask them to take a serious look about the impact their addiction is having on their life. Be honest with them about how you feel and let them know that you care about their well-being.

Finally, support them in seeking help. Be encouraging and hopeful, especially when it is hardest for them to feel that way themselves. It is much easier for a person to relapse if they feel that they do not have a strong support system. Make sure you know the signs to look for when they may be at risk of relapse, and let them know that you will be there throughout the struggle.

Gaming addiction has the power to take the life out of the person that you love, but it doesn’t have to. Recovery is a choice, as is falling further into addiction. Hope, love, faith, and encouragement are central to a successful recovery, and they are something that you can provide to your loved one. It is also important to know the nature of the addiction that they are dealing with. Education around gaming addiction will give you a better picture of just how serious this problem can be, and it will lead you to the tools that may help your loved one in their recovery.

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Aaron’s Apple

lovehopefaith A child in pain is something that no one ever wants to witness. Parents of children living with chronic illness watch their children struggle with some of the simplest things. Chronic illness shouldn’t take away a child’s opportunity to be a child. The foundation Aaron’s Apple helps to ensure just that.

Aaron’s Apple is an organization that helps families with chronically ill children. Their mission is to provide direct funding for medications and treatments that some families cannot afford for their children. They strive to make sure that children do not have to suffer with the pain that can come from chronic illness.

Aaron’s Apple is hosting a charity event on March 6th, 2014. This event is a night of education and inspiration to those living with chronic illness, IBD and other autoimmune diseases. I am absolutely honoured to be speaking at this event.

My topic is “Living with a chronic illness is not a life sentence”. There are so many ways in which chronic illness can be better understood and conquered. Simple things like encouraging strength, hope, being supportive, and having faith can completely change the outlook of those suffering. Reaching out is one of the most important things that you can do for those living with a chronic illness. Being that shoulder to rest on, that uplifting kind word at the end of a rough day, can mean the world to someone in pain.

Transform. Motivate. Awaken. Change your outlook, and watch those around you change theirs.

Drug Abuse in Affluent Teens

Money can do very strange things to people. It can cause some to completely lose their sense of self, which in turn causes them to seek out a new sense of self. Often times with kids and teens that are raised in a wealthy environment this can be the case because they are looking for a sense of purpose. They struggle to make an identity for themselves, separate from their family name. Their parents are often high achievers, Unknown (1)choosing to work and earn rather than spend time with their families. Being a high achiever comes with high standards, standards that teenagers may often fail to meet. These expectations can be overwhelming for a child. Children in wealthy families also often have a lot more spare time on their hands than other children would. Often times they lack responsibilities such as chores and jobs, leaving them with unstructured and unfilled time. So what do these children and teens choose to fill their time with? Well they often have the means to participate in anything that they would like to, but there are some that will choose to do something extreme to make an identity of their own. This is where experimentation and the abuse of substances comes in.

Prescription medications, illicit substances, and alcohol are more readily available to more affluent teenagers. Whether they are purchasing from peers, or taking them from home, wealthier teenagers seem to have access to a wider variety of substances early on and the means to acquire anything they might have in mind. It is pretty much a given that there will be substances present at a high school party, and it should come as no images-3 (1)surprise that there is a large variety to choose from. More and more teenagers are choosing to experiment during parties with their friends, and it is a breeding ground for future addiction and substance abuse. Often trying these drugs once is more than enough to get hooked, and the consequences aren’t always the first thought with teens and peer pressure.

One question that often can come about is how is it possible for kids to get a hold of these substances? Often the home medicine cabinet is more than enough. Coupled with an accessible liquor cabinet, the home can be just as diverse in the types of things kids are trying to get their hands on. This begs the question, what can be done about preventing overdose and addiction?

Well the first step is education about the consequences of using drugs. Now this isn’t exclusive to educating about illicit substances like cocaine and heroin, but also the dangers of using alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications imagesas well as marijuana. Often times parents will use scare tactics in an attempt to discourage their children from using drugs, but this doesn’t work. Just the facts are often enough. This education needs to be paired with encouragement to make good choices and an understanding that there is an open line of communication at all times. Structure is also very important for teens. It is important that they learn responsibility and earning what they have. Teaching teenagers these values early on is a great way to set them up to be a contributing adult.  Having dinner as a family can be the most crucial time you have with your kids and teens in educating them, creating communication, spending time with them and bonding with them daily. images-1 (1)

Adolescence is a crucial period in a child’s life. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are changing at a rapid rate, and with these changes comes big responsibility. It is so important that children and teens are educated about drugs and alcohol in order to make informed decisions. Mistakes will be made, boundaries will be pushed, but the important things is that the teens stay safe, happy and healthy.

Prescription Drug Abuse

shutterstock_53794111 Drug addiction is life changing. It changes who you are, how you act, and how you relate to others. It skews reality and your perception of who you are and what your place in the world is. It destroys relationships that have taken lifetimes to build. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and we are seeing more cases of this type of addiction as time goes on. This is especially true for those aged 14-25. What is even more troubling is where the drugs are coming from.

More often than not, the prescription medication that is being abused comes from the medicine cabinets in their own home. Leftover medications from surgeries, prescriptions meant for others in the family, or even things that they are being prescribed themselves, are finding their way into the hands of others.

Prescription drug abuse also seems to be taken more lightly and is generally more socially acceptable. This is largely because people don’t think of them as “street drugs”, like heroin and cocaine. The truth of the matter is that just because they aren’t street drugs, doesn’t mean they aren’t any less addictive or harmful. These medications can be extremely harmful to the body, and without the proper precautions, can cause death. The toxic effects of these medications are often unknown to those that are taking them, which is why we have been seeing an increase in prescription medication related deaths.

So how do we make the younger generations aware of the consequences of drug shutterstock_62275720addiction? Scare tactics don’t often work, and just simply telling them to say no isn’t often enough. This is where awareness and education come into play. It is so important that we are giving them the right amount of information to make good choices, but it is also important that we have open lines of communication with them. These open lines of communication will allow them to feel comfortable coming to us when they make mistakes and choose to try drugs.

Prescription drug abuse doesn’t need to happen. Addiction to these drugs is preventable. So what are some ways that you can prevent your medications from falling into the wrong hands?

Keep medications in a safe and secure place. Keep your medications out of sight. Don’t leave them in a readily accessible place for your children or others to get into them. Make sure that you keep track of how much you are taking and if some go missing.

Dispose of your medications properly. Pharmacies are more than happy to help you dispose of old and unused medication for you. By bringing your medication to them when you are finished taking them, you are reducing the likelihood that someone in your home will abuse them.

Protect those that you love. Lock up your medications and reduce the temptation. And above all else, encourage education and awareness about prescription drug abuse.

The Codependent Relationship: Mother and Child

shutterstock_135236594  The bond between mother and child is something that no other relationship can quite match. When addiction is involved in this relationship, it is seriously damaging to the healthy functioning of all relationships.

Codependency, described simply, is when both parties are dependent on one another in order for the relationship to function. Codependency is unique between a mother and child because of the nature of the relationship. Mothers are meant to be nurturing and caring individuals. But when their child is addicted to drugs, their caring and nurturing may be doing more harm than good.

Mothers of those addicted will often times go above and beyond to make sure that their child has everything that they need. Buying food, clothes, paying rent, and giving them shutterstock_70611019money. Some go as far as buying the drugs for their child. In their eyes, they are doing well by their child, making sure that they are able to keep on living. These mothers struggle to focus on themselves in any way at all. They will put their lives aside to make sure that their child will continue to come back to them for what they need.

The child will manipulate in order to get what they want. They will say hateful and hurtful things in order to break their mother down. They will be deceptive and lie in order to get more money. The child is trying to stay sick, and they know that their mother will do anything to keep them happy and alive.

shutterstock_9303223This relationship is extremely toxic and allows for the addiction to continue. So what are some way to recover from codependency?

  • Attend family recovery programs with the addicted

  • Learn to put your interests and needs before others

  • Become aware of the signs of codependent behaviour

  • Develop strong boundaries

With these strategies and professional help, codependency is something that you and your family can recover from.

Experimenting During the Teen Years: Substance Abuse in Youth

shutterstock_107588312Adolescence is a time in a child’s life in which many changes are occurring. It can be an extremely confusing and trying time for them, as well as their parents. As their parents, it is important that you educate your children about drugs, alcohol, sex, and what it means to be “peer pressured”. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child is essential in order to be in the loop of what is going on in their lives.

Your child may decide to experiment with any combination of the above listed, however, there comes a time when drug/alcohol use shifts to drug/alcohol abuse. How honest they are, if they come home intoxicated regularly, if they spend a lot of spare time at parties, and the friends that they choose to surround themselves bullyingwith are all great indicators of substance abuse.

Lying or hiding things may be an indication that your child is using or abusing substances. This is not true in all cases. It is normal for them to want their space and private life. However, when they are lying about large things (where they are, where they are going, what they are doing) it can be cause for concern. If you and your child have a healthy and functioning relationship in which they are comfortable communicating with you, they shouldn’t feel the need to hide from you. It is important to approach them from a loving and caring place, avoiding accusatory statements. Give them the opportunity to open up to you.

If your child is coming home intoxicated on a regular basis, it could be an indication that they are abusing substances. Using substances may be a way for your child to escape the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. However, using substances as a coping strategy is not healthy. This is another reason it is very important that you keep an open line of communication with your child.shutterstock_70611019

Older adolescents are fairly likely to attend parties. It is naïve to not think that at some (if not all) of these parties alcohol will be served and drugs will be offered, especially if there is not appropriate supervision. Your child may opt to spend more time than not a parties. It is important that you educate your child about the dangers of participating in underage drinking as well as drug use of any kind.

The friends that your child chooses to spend their time with is a good indicator as to whether or not they will be pressured to try alcohol and/or drugs. Now it is impossible to judge a book by its cover, however, it is important to know the other children your child associates with. Knowing who they are and what they are like will give you a good indication of the likelihood that they consume alcohol/use drugs. Again, it is extremely important to educate your child about peer pressure and the dangers of consuming alcohol/drugs.

It is impossible to completely protect your child from being exposed to alcohol and/or drugs. With the normalization of alcohol and/or drug use during adolescence, it is becoming harder and harder for parents to make their children understand the risks and repercussions that their activities can have on their lives as well as the lives of others. The best thing that you can do is give them the facts, and encourage them to make good choices.

ACOA: How Alcoholism Effects Your Children as Adults

Alcohol abuse in a family deeply effects how the children in the family will respond to alcohol. One path these effects could take is your children also abusing alcohol and other drugs. This is because it would become a learned and acceptable coping strategy for your children when faced with difficult situations. The other path that these effects could take is that your children would avoid use of alcohol all together. This avoidance can go as far as fear of becoming addicted themselves. It is important to be aware of the effects that your drinking has on your family members, especially your children. Children learn mainly through observation. If they see alcoholism, they are more likely to become alcoholics themselves. So what can you do to ensure that your children receive the treatment that they may also need?

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Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) is a branch of Al-Anon (support group for family members of alcholics) that focuses specifically on the adult children of alcoholics. ACoA exists to help educate and heal; educate about alcoholism and heal the scars left by their parent’s substance abuse. ACoA is a peer based support group, aimed at helping recovery within the family.

ACoA gives these children the opportunity to focus on their own recovery, all while their family member works on their own recovery. Often times, individuals will reach out to ACoA before their parent has decided to seek help. This is because they feel the need to know more about alcoholism than their family member has told them. They want to see past the drinking, and the other behaviours, into the causes of the alcoholism. Sometimes they just want support in making decisions regarding their relationship with their alcoholic parent.

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Recovery is something that the entire family must go through. It is impossible for the addicted parent to have a successful recovery, if they are coming home to the same environment that they left. The children are responsible for learning what the triggers and warning signs are, to help their parent work through a relapse or help to prevent one from happening. Part of this recovery process is learning about codependency and what role they may have played in enabling the parent’s behaviours. It is also a time to reflect of manipulative behaviours that have been exhibited in the past. By doing so, they can learn a better way in which to handle these situations.

Alcoholism often has a greater effect than we sometimes realise. It is important that all parties are considered when dealing with the recovery process. Ensuring that all family members, including the adult children, have a place to seek support is very important. Without recovery within the family, true recovery may not be successful within the addict.