How I’m fighting my addiction

Updated: May 26, 2021


Despite advocating against activities that lead to a detrimental addictive lifestyle, I succumbed to one such addiction. It took me by storm and before I knew it, I was in the eye. Not alcohol, not cigarettes, not weed, not drugs, not any of the conventional ones you would expect it to be. I have a gaming addiction. And it is just one specific game. DoTA 2.


How it started

I was introduced to DoTA 2 in 2018 by a friend. DoTA is a 5v5 multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) involving extreme levels of commitment to even understand the game. I am a sucker for a challenge in games and any game with even the slightest amount of strategizing involved goes a long way with me. DoTA had plenty of that to offer.


Once I had understood the game, there was no turning back. It was all about getting better at the game, mechanically and mentally, and eventually ranking up in one of the world’s toughest game to master.



A year into the game and I was running in this endless maze of grinding hours and hours of DoTA without realising I was going in circles. All the while, unconsciously feeding to my illusioned sense of happiness or betterment at the game. Every win made me high. The adrenaline from a 90 mins long game made me queue for a new game hoping for another 90 mins. The satisfaction of learning something new every day sustained my appetite for the game.

Like any other mainstream addiction, DoTA came with its perils as well and I was too blinded to see it.


How it became a problem

A casual gaming habit to destress and have fun with friends started becoming compulsive during the second half of 2019. It was the beginning of my final year in college and with that came the mandatory existential crisis phase of my life. I was stressed about my grades, my career, job placements,.. essentially, the fear of facing the real world hit me hard. And I took the easy way out. I played and played and played until I eventually forgot about the uneasiness that was constant on my shoulders. My friends and parents noticed this change in me and were genuinely concerned for me when they made me realize the depth I’ve fallen into.


The onset of 2020 brought new hope. I had worked out clear plans for the entire year and the final year project kept me busy. I was in Bangalore with my friends, away from my home for the first time and it was exciting. For 3 months I had hardly thought about playing.



But in the last weeks of March, my world came crashing down on me and my plans toppling over each other like dominoes. It was the end of normality for the entire nation with the surge of COVID-19. It was also the end of a relationship for me which I believed to be my endgame. The toll it had on me was devastating and with no one to unburden, under lockdown, in Coimbatore, I was in hell


I was lonely and I relapsed. Bigtime. I was too much of a coward to stand up and face the problems. Instead, I opted to forget about them by playing DoTA. My addiction was back. Only this time it was much worse.


A screen grab of my Instagram story on April 26, 2020 posted at 11:56 pm.






Realisation

It was not too long before I realized I was back on the wheel again.

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I was playing 24/7 and my physique changed. After 2 months, I had developed deep dark circles around my eyes, lumps of fat on my waist and every time I looked at the mirror, I hated what I saw. It wasn’t the same me. My face was lifeless and my eyes were searching for a purpose.

Owing to this drastic change in my physical appearance, I decided to do better. I was finally able to accept the fact that I had a problem and I had to face it. And what followed is the fight I put up against myself.



The Fight

1) Detox

The first step to recovery from any addiction is detox. I uninstalled the game and everything associated with it. I put myself in a self-quarantine from my computer and basically from my four-walled room. I limited the amount of time I spent alone and kept myself busy.


2) A new habit

It was hard to find something to do under pandemic lockdown situations. With literally no friends in this new city, I decided to make new friends in books. I started reading books and I immediately fell in love. In no time, I started craving for the smell and touch of books. I found a safe haven in a nearby book store which gave me peace. Standing there, in the midst of marvellous works by great literary minds, gave me a renewed impetus in life.


3) Exercise

I had to bring back my own self. Physically. I developed the habit of rising early and going for jogs. I started working out in the evening. I researched about and adopted a healthy balanced diet. It is a gradual and slow process to see changes but I’m still on it.


These three steps proved to be significant in recovering me from my addiction. But the road to it was not an easy one.


The Hurdles

1) Denial

The first and the biggest challenge to recover from any problem is to accept the problem. I was in a constant state of denial for a long time. It was hard for me to accept the flaw in me and every time someone pointed it out, I got furious and shut them out. When I realized I was in denial was when I was able to make significant headway to get clean.

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2) Relapses

I have to point that I still play the game occasionally. It is not very hard to reinstall the game. It is a cycle of reinstalling and uninstalling and I would have done that at least 50 times now. But there is nothing to worry about now because I have long forgotten the ugly competitive side of me. It might sound like I’m still in denial but I play just to have a good time with my friends.


Our misconception about addiction


Addiction is something that has been vastly tied with activities like drug abuse and alcoholism. Due to this, addiction towards excessive gaming, social media, lying, stealing, obsession, masturbation and even eating has been disregarded as “not so serious enough” to be considered as a valid problem.


The term addiction is medically coined as dependence syndrome by WHO. So I say, anything that makes oneself depend on it to cope with life and thus hindering essential activities and personal growth is a form of addiction.


Addiction, if not realized by self or provided with external help, a significant amount of time and opportunities could be lost and leave irreparable damage in one’s life. If you know someone who is showing signs of addiction with life deteriorating matter, I kindly suggest that you help them realize as a friend or seek professional help.


National Toll-Free Drug de-addiction helpline Number: 1800-11-0031


I cannot claim that I am 100% clean from my addiction. This is a chronic condition I’m fighting but right now I can say I’m kicking ass and proud of myself.




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