It can be tough to learn that your child suffers from gaming addiction or other addictions. Parents will ask their child: How can I help my child?
While at university, I discovered that my son was addicted to video gaming. I had no idea what this new addiction was and had little support from others. My holistic training helped me to guide my son toward recovery.
How my son got hooked on gaming
My son was bullied in middle school. He wanted to find meaningful connections and acceptance. His online gaming community, which has many players, fulfilled his hunger. He was not alone in his struggle with low self-esteem. Many of the children he was playing with had problems, and playing video games with them wasn’t easy. He felt helpless and overwhelmed when he went to university years later. He was still determining if he could manage his degree program. To cope, he turned to games again and became addicted to them.
How I helped him quit gaming
When the university asked me to leave, I requested a complete detox. He last went to a class two months ago. I emphasize his physical health and a healthy diet. I also took him to my classes for exercise, hoping the activity’s dopamine would improve his mood. It worked.
He felt and looked better, and he was able to quit gaming. He relapsed eighteen weeks after returning to school, but he was still in denial about his addiction. This began a rollercoaster ride that included many relapses.
His university counselor sessions helped him find better-coping strategies for anxiety. He exercised and maintained that his physical fitness was what saved him. It continues to keep him balanced.
How I responded to my son’s gaming addiction as a parent
It was difficult to watch my son’s journey through addiction recovery. I felt lonely and isolated throughout those years. I didn’t want my son to experience this, so I decided to share my story and create awareness.
After speaking out publicly on Video Gaming Disorder for several years, I began receiving requests to coach parents struggling with their child’s gaming addiction. In 2020, I completed the comprehensive and informative INTENTA Clinical training for Gaming Disorder. I also expanded my coaching to include online coaching for caregivers.
My second book, Cyber Sober: A Caregiver’s Guide to Video Gaming Addiction 1, has just been published. This book guides the reader through my son’s addiction and recovery. It covers the nine signs, five stages of habit, and my son’s story. Experts were also available to help me support my message that video gaming addiction and other addictions are not easily overcome.
How can parents help their children overcome gaming addiction?
My coaching has shown me that parents can become so fixated on the problem, the addiction, that they forget there is a person to blame. My son received compassion and not anger from me. My gaming-addicted son, severely underweight and emotionally fragile, wasn’t my happy, healthy son. I recognized that there was a deeper cause. He would be more likely to recover if we could find the root cause sooner. I would have encouraged him to continue his addiction if he had expressed anger. I didn’t also blame the game designers. My oldest son was not addicted to video games.
Many parents I have spoken with lost control of their homes to allow the addicted gamer to set the rules. My son was an adult, but his emotional maturity was similar to a 16-year-old. I decided to let him have his way and be his parent. He was allowed to hate me for the rest of his adult life. My job wasn’t to win popularity but to understand him and offer a firm but smooth path to his recovery.
How can clinicians help families with gaming addiction?
I was able to use the INTENTA training to evaluate each family and realize that there is no one-size fits all approach. Recovery from addiction is not a linear process. It is more like taking three steps forward and two back. It’s not uncommon for parents to recognize their child’s addiction before they admit it. There is a large gap between parents’ expectations and the needs of addicts. This is my goal.
The coach and clinician should meet each family’s needs. Sometimes one parent will recognize the problem, and the other will not. They both must get on the same page and work together. The strength of numbers makes us stronger, so the more support we can offer, the greater our chances of success. It is optional for every gamer to detox completely. Some people may prefer a harm-reduction approach. It doesn’t matter which method you choose. It is essential to look at the whole picture and take a holistic view of your overall health, including physical and emotional. INTENTA training is a powerful tool to map out this.
Recovery from addiction takes patience, perseverance, Herculean strength, enormous support from family and friends, and professional therapy. It is possible to overcome this compulsion and move on more healthily. You can reach the stage where you can recover. It is worth enduring the pain to fully live on the other side.