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Subject: World of Warcraft Addiction - Intervention? How? rss

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Sock Puppet
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Sorry for creating a sock puppet for this. I'm a regular member of BGG, but due to the nature of the topic, I didn't want to reveal myself (largely because I don't want to make a public scene about my brother, for anyone who may know him).


Anyway, my brother is, I'm certain, extremely addicted to World of Warcraft. I don't just mean this in a sense of "he plays it a lot" - I have come to the conclusion that his level of addiction is that as strong as drugs or alcohol, just in a different form. For example:

- When he started playing WoW a few years ago, he had a steady girlfriend and was in college getting a pre-law degree. Within months, his girlfriend dumped him and he dropped out of school because he was playing the game too much.

- He moved back into my parents house, and stayed there for awhile, but because of some of my parents "rules", and the sub-par internet connection, he moved out.

- He had a few jobs while living on his own. None of them lasted more than a few months. He kept blaming "bad management" and "giving him crappy schedules", but I'm pretty sure the reason is "giving him schedules that conflict with his World of Warcraft raids".

- He still can't hold down a job more than few months, and works part-time at most when he does work.

- He stays up to all hours of the night, and sleeps all day.

- He is constantly "sick". This is largely due to him screwing up his body's sleep schedule, and the fact that his room is extremely unsanitary (dirty dishes, old food containers, etc).

- He rarely even bathes anymore, and some days only comes up to grab something to eat before retreating to his room.

- His life is based around his guild's raid schedule. I've tried to invite him over in the past, but he's either turned me down because of a pre-planned raid, or cancelled on me because his guild scheduled a sudden raid. (Or, cancelled because he's tired/sick).


Anyway, that's what this question is about. At this point, I'm convinced my brother has a VERY SERIOUS problem, and the worst part is, I don't even think he knows it. I'm not sure how to approach him on it, either. In the past, I've tried to comment on his stench (politely), and he either just shrugs it off, or gets all defensive. (One time, for instance, I invited him to dinner; Later, when I was calling to see if he was still coming, I just asked him nicely to take a shower first, not making a big deal out of it. He suddenly got quiet and said he wasn't feeling good.) This goes far beyond just the smell - it's the way he's living (or in his case, completely destroying) his life.

For the record, he's in his late 20's.


What I wanted to know is: What can I do? He needs help, but I don't know how to do it. If this was a drug or alcohol addiction, there are steps for intervention, but although the signs of this addiction are similar, I'm just not sure how to go about it. It makes me sad watching him waste his life, and yes, it is his life to waste... but still. There's got to be something I can do.


(As for my parents, I won't go into it too much as some detail could make more revealing info than I want, but suffice it to say they are dealing with other things right now that are more pressing to them in their minds).
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Start here.

One of my best friends from high school has the very same problem. He went from school to the army and when he got out he had plans for college and got a decent job. Within months he was fired, fired again, fired yet again and then fired one more time for failing to show up to work. He stays up all night, lives with his parents again (pushing 40 now) and lost his fiancee ages ago due to his gaming problem.

This is a problem that will not solve itself, I really suggest doing some research for where to begin, and if you want even talk to a counselor or two for help.

Good luck.
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Good luck!
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Ian Klinck
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I'll repeat the "Good Luck", and also say "good on you for making the effort to help him out."
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Blorb Plorbst
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How's he earning enough to continue playing? Internet,fees,food,rent, car?

If you or your parents are "helping out", you need to stop and tell him why.

Good luck with this. It's easy to joke about this kind of problem but it can be as devastating to a person as drugs and alcohol.
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How can a person lose their girlfriend, their job, their career, their ability to maintain normal levels of self-cleanliness, and not realize that something is wrong with them? That's always the question I have about people in cases like this. I mean, I can see myself having an addiction; but I don't understand the self-denial it takes to say that you don't have a problem when you so clearly do.

Sorry, this wasn't helpful, but there you are. Anyway, socky, best of luck, it sounds like you really need to get everybody together for an intervention or something similarly drastic. If your brother is in his late 20's then he still has time to get his life together, but delaying things wouldn't be good.
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Diane Close
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Cold_fuzion's suggestion is a good place to start to gain some understanding of the depth of the situation. The fact that your brother is an adult, however, means that you should be looking at organizations like AlAnon, too, for yourself. You can't fix him and you can't save him, no matter how hard you try. Once you realize that and set good boundaries for yourself, you'll have a sense of peace no matter what path your brother decides to take.

I recommend reading Addict In The Family: Stories of Loss, Hope, and Recovery.
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wmshub wrote:
How can a person lose their girlfriend, their job, their career, their ability to maintain normal levels of self-cleanliness, and not realize that something is wrong with them?


I thought my foot was wet. I looked down. It was my own blood and a burning sensation from having stepped into the glass from a bottle of vodka I had dropped and shattered.

I was totally unaware that I had stepped barefoot in shattered glass and had a shard stuck in me.

That was the last time I ever drank to get drunk.

If I didn't even notice that, why bother to notice anything else?
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Diane's advice is really good, especially the enabling part - that will only make the behaviour worse. I am going to add a little bit to it from personal experience.

1. You can only help him if he wants help, otherwise he will probably hit rock bottom first. It is not a pretty sight, in fact it is often gut wrenching, but it is important that you be there for him when it happens.

2. There may be contributing psychiatric and psychological issues that are causing the escapism that comes from the video games. Depression is a high contributing factor to behaviour like this. Getting your brother to see a therapist may be the first step you need to take (as long as he is willing). Given his age and when this started mental illness is a likely contributor, and until that is dealt with then he will continue in is addiction. If you were in Canada I could give you further advice on involuntary commitments to psychiatric care, however I am not sure how US law works on this.

3. If you attempt to help him and all attempts are rebuffed then stand back, get your parents too as well. Get support for you and your parents (I think Al-Anon was suggested, also NAMI is really good). Then conserve your energy because you are going to need it when he hits bottom. However, make sure you do not lose touch, let him know that you will be there if he really needs you because you will want him to reach out to you when he hits that point.

Good Luck! My thoughts and prayers are with you.
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Hello Sock Puppet!

I’m not in the camp where you should watch someone hit bottom before helping them. However, keep in mind that when you tell someone they have a problem, the first reaction from them is not going to be a good one. Even to the point that you might lose the relationship you have with them.

Intervention can help but you need all the family there. Don’t blame him for his illness and try to convince him he needs help from trained mental health professionals and not from you or your family. The willingness of the family to see the problem and express this to him may get his attention.

This should be used as a last resort, so depending on which state you are in, there may be legislation that provide for involuntary examination and can be initiated by judges, law enforcements officials, physicians or mental health professionals. Usually there must be evidence that the person has a mental illness and is a harm to self, harm to others, or self neglectful. In Florida, it’s called the Baker Act (http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/mentalhealth/laws/index.shtml). Other states may have similar laws.

Al-Anon will give you fundamentals in how to cope with a loved one that has addiction and can be applied to addictions other than alcohol such as gaming. Because you care about your brother, you want to do something. Anything...to help him, but he may not care or want the help. At some point, you have to come to terms with this and accept him for what he is. Free will is an interesting gift.

There was a movie called "Mazes and Monsters" with Tom Hanks as the star. A little campy, but it get’s the point across that we all have the ability to take a wrong turn. Hopefully, our friends and family will help us to get back where we belong.

Hopefully this has been helpfull...

W. Rogers Abbott III
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Good luck sock puppet, as someone having to deal with a different kind of addiction on the family, I know how hard it can be to deal with it. Persistence is a key factor that you need, and as Diane said, protect yourself from the possible failure. Sometimes you can't help, as much as you try. A game addiction is hard to deal, because it is a very vivid form of escapism, really vivid.

AlAn is a nice place to get advice, as is VG addiction. The third point from (walk_softly) is a real good one. Get everyone together and don't push too much, you may lose touch with him, and them, he will be down an spiral that you can't reach anymore.
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One of the big hurdles that needs to be cleared if your brother is ever going to break his addiction to WoW is the fact that his social life is so heavily tied into it. In all likelihood his sense of self viz-a-viz his characters and interaction with guild members is more substantial to him than his offline life. Those relationships are probably very real and very important to him (even if he wouldn't frame them in those words).

As such, there is going to be HEAVY resistance to giving that up. Asking him to leave the game would be tantamount to asking your average person to needlessly enter the witness protection program - cutting themselves off from their current life and friends.

Good luck. Definitely good luck.

-MMM
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wmshub wrote:
How can a person lose their girlfriend, their job, their career, their ability to maintain normal levels of self-cleanliness, and not realize that something is wrong with them? That's always the question I have about people in cases like this. I mean, I can see myself having an addiction; but I don't understand the self-denial it takes to say that you don't have a problem when you so clearly do.

I've resisted posting because my opinion of the matter is discouraging. But Octavian is right, I think. There is no self-denial: quite the opposite.

Girlfriend? All his social needs are being met by WoW. He's in a Band of Brothers. Lots of people lose their wives because they're dedicated to their jobs: military, police, even advertising.

Job? Career? He has them in WoW. He's got a job with his team and he gets nice multimedia rewards, not some dry number on a check. Would you rather sit in a sterile courtroom listening to lawyers drone on all day and sit in a little office copying words from this reference to that brief, or go adventuring--safely, at that.

He may even make real money from WoW, though he sounds a bit too detached for that.
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People don't do things without getting a psychological reward for their actions. WoW is all about giving people psychological rewards for playing the game--so is any game. I suppose some outdoorsy respectability attaches to being a ski bum or a tennis bum or a surfer, but it's really the same thing: obsessing on an amusement instead of going to jobs which all too often are sterilized of any interest or variation in the mistaken interest of not distracting the worker and keeping them focused on the job. Don't let any foreign material get in to the little cogs in the machine.

In some respects Sockbro is behaving more rationally than someone who parks behind a desk or a counter forty hours a week--and gives up hours to commute to that mindlessness.

Sock, I hope you get more useful advice from the professional sources people have been giving you. All I've got is, try to socialize with Sockbro on his terms. Bring over a pizza and a book (or some game rules); when Sockbro needs to go off to meet his online social obligations, read and get time with him. Remind him there's a real world. If he has some traditional love that he can't get in WoW, try to feed it, even if it's just playing pool. Few people like criticism, so offering it is just pushing him away, however constructive the criticism is.
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wmshub wrote:
How can a person lose their girlfriend, their job, their career, their ability to maintain normal levels of self-cleanliness, and not realize that something is wrong with them? That's always the question I have about people in cases like this. I mean, I can see myself having an addiction; but I don't understand the self-denial it takes to say that you don't have a problem when you so clearly do. :(


Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.
-Demosthenes


Good luck. I've personally been a little ways down that WoW road and was thankfully able to turn back when it got to the point where I had to choose between internet relationships and real-life relationships. I can definitely see how people get addicted to it.
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TempSockPuppet wrote:
If this was a drug or alcohol addiction, there are steps for intervention,...


Don't fool yourself into thinking that intervention is a panacea and that if only there was a formula you could follow then everything would magically get better. TV shows give the idea of "intervention" a bad name.

Interventions can work if the addict is ready to admit there's a problem. But if the addict isn't there yet, then you can "intervene" all you want and the addict is still going to choose to go to hell in the handbasket of their choice.

Ditto with involuntary commitments. Even rehab is not a guarantee of better health or "curing" addictions!

Don't pin your hopes on things like that. Use them, as tools when appropriate, but don't worship at their altar and expect miracles.

Octavian is right about the social life ties. It's much the same with hard drug users. A person addicted to cocaine, heroin or meth doesn't like to mix it up with others; they either like to be alone or be in the company of other addicts. When they're on the road to recovery this is one of the hardest things for them to do: give up their social circle and choose to socialize with sober people instead.

Giving up WoW buddies for your Sockbro is going to be just as difficult as a Hell's Angels cokehead being forced to hang with preppies.

Tall_Walt wrote:
All I've got is, try to socialize with Sockbro on his terms.


When you're able to socialize with your Sockbro and you feel saddened by his choices but you don't take on his pain, then you'll know you're doing it right.

Remember: it's socialize, not enable!

You don't have to wait around for him to heal in order to lead a full and happy life for yourself. His life is not your life. Make your own peace of mind a priority and you'll be better able to accept and handle whatever life brings you. His or yours.
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pdclose wrote:
Remember: it's socialize, not enable!

QFT
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CrankyPants wrote:
How's he earning enough to continue playing? Internet,fees,food,rent, car?

If you or your parents are "helping out", you need to stop and tell him why.

Good luck with this. It's easy to joke about this kind of problem but it can be as devastating to a person as drugs and alcohol.


I agree totally with this.

I've never dealt with this, but I can only imagine the initial barrier of even bringing the topic up without meeting hostility.

I'm praying for both of you.
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Hello dear Sockpuppet,

I'm sorry you're dealing with that. I don't have any good resources, but I remembered a couple of other BGG threads about WoW addiction.

I thought you might be interested to read them, but after I found them, they don't seem as serious as your situation.

Nonetheless, here are the links;

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/211950/page/1

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/296945/page/1

Good luck with this.

Remember: the only person's behavior that you can control is your own.
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Speaking from personal experience, all I can say is that intervention is pointless if you bro doesn't want to be helped. I'm sorry to say that the only two paths out of this situation are:

1) Making your bro see that he can have a better life.

2) Your bro will continue down this path 'till he crashes and burns.

Sadly, my brother's story ended in #2, so I really hope you can help your bro down path #1. I tried emphasizing the bad things about the current situation and pointing to other things in life that can give you happiness. A girlfriend and a social life to decrease loneliness, a steady job with more money and increased self worth, etc.

Sorry to say that, if in the end he chooses path #2, there isn't much you can do and be there for him to pick up the pieces and rebuild his life. Don't begrudge him for the choices he's made. Forgive him in the end and help him.

Last thing I want to add, again from personal experiences, is don't fault yourself for failing to change his life! You tried.That is your obligation as a brother, but he has to make the change, and you can't do it for him. If he chooses path #2, at least you tried to help him, and always leave the door open if he needs real help.

Wow, this was longer than I needed to post ... perhaps I needed to get this of my chest as well. I really hope in the end he'll overcome his addiction and rebuild his life. Good luck to you both!
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wdragon3 wrote:

I’m not in the camp where you should watch someone hit bottom before helping them. However, keep in mind that when you tell someone they have a problem, the first reaction from them is not going to be a good one. Even to the point that you might lose the relationship you have with them.


I am not in that camp either, as I said if all efforts are rebuffed then step back and look after yourself. If you continue to throw yourself at a brick wall and exhaust yourself then in a way you are enabling the mental illness and will be in no shape to help the person when they finally want it. Unfortunately when someone gets to the point that sock puppet's brother is then they often do not want help. By going to Al-Anon or another support group you can gain a variety of tools to help yourself and to be prepared for what is going to happen to hopefully help prepare to prevent the worst outcome.
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Support groups imply cooperation which in turns implies acceptance of having a problem. I was in the understanding that the OP's bro was far from accepting his gaming habits are an addiction.

First he needs to accept it, and even then he must want to be helped or else any effort is doomed to fail.

The problem is that gaming addictions are not considered to be physically addictive. If someone has a hard drugs addiction you can, at least in the NLs, try to get offical compulsory help by showing the person is a threat to himself or others. This a hard thing to prove with gaming.

That's why it's hard to help, and that's why I hope he will see that it can be a better life if he accepts help.

Again, good luck.
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Nikku wrote:
Support groups imply cooperation which in turns implies acceptance of having a problem. I was in the understanding that the OP's bro was far from accepting his gaming habits are an addiction.


The support groups to which walk_softly refers aren't for the addict, but for their friends and family members. AA is for an addict; AlAnon is for their friends and family members. In North America, AlAnon, NarAnon, and similar "-anon" groups teach friends and family members how to help without enabling, how and when to let go (if necessary), and gives them a sympathetic and empathetic ear in a safe environment -- all independent of the addict and the addict's choices.

"Your" addict doesn't have to be seeking treatment or attending any support group themselves in order for you to get help for yourself via groups like AlAnon. It's completely independent and separate. Sometimes an addict will be spurred by curiosity to seek such groups for themselves when they see family members gaining healthier behaviors and interacting differently with them thanks to what family members learn in the -anon groups.
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All, thanks for the replies and the insight. Everything here definitely makes sense, and gives me a lot to think about.

It's interesting, my wife and I were looking at a magazine we got in the mail yesterday, and there was an article all about video game addictions, including a list of questions to ask yourself of "am I addicted". When thinking of my brother, the answer to almost every single one was "yes", so I'm no longer in doubt about it. (And fortunately, there were very few that I answered "yes" to, and even those weren't "frequent", but more "once in awhile).

I appreciate the comments about "can't save him, he has to do it himself" - while hard to hear, I definitely can sense the truth in it. A lot of good links and sites to look at. I know ultimately it's his choice, so I hope I can only help nudge him to realizing he needs help. If not, I think some of those groups (like AlAnon - I need to look at that) will help so I can be more "at peace" with it.

If this account had GeekGold, I'd definitely be sharing it around. I'd do it with my "real" account, but I admit, I still kind of want to remain anonymous for now (again, more in case someone happens to know my brother - my goal here is not to embarrass him at all).


Someone asked how he pays for things, like rent, food, car, fees, etc. My parents, for whatever reason, aren't enforcing rent, and he just mooches food off them too. (Yeah, I think in a way, this may describe what Diane describes as "enabling", perhaps?). He doesn't have a car. When he had a job, it was local enough that he could walk. As for fees, I think when he gets his occasional job, it's to earn enough to pay for his next year/6-month subscription. Since he lives with my parents, he just uses their internet connection. However, I suspect (though can't prove) that he's also sold some of his stuff. For instance, he got a Nintendo DS for his birthday a couple years ago, but for the past 6 months or so, he claims he can't find it. That may be true, but part of me wonders if he sold it at GameStop or something to pay for WoW-related stuff. But until I know for sure, I'm not going to bring that up. His room is a pig sty, so it could just as easily truly be buried in there somewhere.


There were a lot of good points about his escapism. He's been that way since he was a teenager, just in different forms. It used to be D&D, though not quite as severe as this (but he failed many classes due to his failure to do homework). But as for law stuff, while I'm sure there is more fun in the WoW, he actually very much enjoys reading law and political stuff for fun (in the rare moments when he isn't playing). I'm not a political expert, but since it's something he is interested in, when I do talk to him, it does occasionally go into politics, because it's something that he can be passionate about. (My wife hates it when we do that though. )


Again, thanks for all the comments. I'll continue to monitor the thread (and post) as I look into the options everyone has posted. I really appreciate the remarks, even (especially?) the ones that are hardest to hear, because if nothing else, it helps me know that I'm not alone in this - that there is help; if not for my brother (because of refusal to accept it), at least for me and my family to know how to handle it and be ready for when he does hit that wall.
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TempSockPuppet wrote:
Someone asked how he pays for things, like rent, food, car, fees, etc. My parents, for whatever reason, aren't enforcing rent, and he just mooches food off them too. (Yeah, I think in a way, this may describe what Diane describes as "enabling", perhaps?).


No "perhaps" about it. Your parents are definitely engaging in enabling behavior. Thanks to your parents, your brother has found a way to avoid the responsibilities that go with being an adult such as paying rent, buying his own food, preparing his own meals, etc. There are a lot of resources at that link that can help both you and your parents get started learning to avoid behaviors that enable your brother to avoid responsibility and continue his WOW habit.

Don't expect your parents to be convinced, though. In my experience parents often have tremendous denial barriers in place. But even if only you get healthy, it's worth it. That's one less person contributing to the problem, and one less source of pain in your life.

TempSockPuppet wrote:
Again, thanks for all the comments. I'll continue to monitor the thread (and post) as I look into the options everyone has posted. I really appreciate the remarks, even (especially?) the ones that are hardest to hear, because if nothing else, it helps me know that I'm not alone in this - that there is help; if not for my brother (because of refusal to accept it), at least for me and my family to know how to handle it and be ready for when he does hit that wall.


You sound like you're in a good place: open to your role in his problems and willing to improve. That's half the battle right there. Like everyone else has said, good luck and best wishes. Addiction can be a very, very long, hard path to follow, recovery or not. Prepare yourself for the long haul and learn to live, laugh and love in spite of the situation.

Edit: Paul reminds me I should add one more little tidbit... A lot of the -anon groups got their start in or around religious organizations or incorporate religious principles. If those aren't your thing, don't despair, there are alternatives. Look into cognitive therapy or learn to look beyond the religious aspects to the lessons contained within.

There's none so blind as those who will not see.
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Jeff
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OK, no experience with groups that could help out - so take this with a grain of salt...

...but it occurs to me that if you're looking for addiction assistance for non-physically addicting type stuff, maybe the search should start with gambling addiction assistance. My understanding is the addiction with gambling is the social aspects, the thrill, the games themselves, etc - all of which seem to mirror WoW addiction closer than the drugs/alchohol things (where there can be a physical dependance to overcome), so maybe they'd be a better place to poke around in for help.

Again, I haven't looked, so I can't say for certain - just thought it may be a thought worth mentioning.
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