I am currently quitting smoking. So far, I’m on day 5 (6? They are starting to blur…I am combining wine with my other methods) without a cigarette. Freaking hell! That’s big. Straight up cold turkey and 5 days straight so far.

How I’ve managed the last day or two is…silly to say the least, though.

I’ve been running BGs in WoW.

These are my lungs on cancer sticks. And god, do I miss them.

These are my lungs on cancer sticks. And god, do I miss them.

See, I know if I lay down to sleep, all I will think about it how much I want a smoke. So, I’ve been doing the best thing I know to distract myself – PvP. In particular, BGs. It’s both comforting and familiar, but it also demands my attention more than dungeons do. It doesn’t give me room to daydream and think about smoking. I have to be paying attention for PvP.

The biggest trick is what happens when we lose. That USED to be my old standby smoke break. Now, I need to find productive ways to spend that time – reading blogs, checking email, flipping over to facebook, doing a lap or two around the apartment. I won’t say it’s EASY, but I am surprised at how much I can get engaged in the game and forget about my cravings. In a way, WoW itself is a great tool to help me quit.

I am hardly alone here. My goal is a bit pedestrian and my methods are fairly casual, but the idea of video games as therapy is hardly a unique one.  One of the most impressive uses of games as therapy involves the treatment of soldiers suffering from PTSD. Through video games, these men and women have been able to tackle their psychological issues in a virtual, safe environment. The freedom afforded in a world disconnected from reality can be empowering, giving patients the ability to address issues in an empowering and “no-strings-attached” set-up.

In what is perhaps an even more interesting application of play therapy, psychologists and therapists are beginning to use video games as valid and viable methods for working with developmentally disabled children, such as kids with autism and Asberger’s.  Therapeutic programs help individuals learn about identity, social norms and even spatial recognition, with the Wii and Kinect showing especial potential for this last area of education.

As for me? I take my game therapy with a good side order of wine. But, hey, nearly at a week smoke-less, now…something’s working!

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