DEAR ABBY: I am a 34-year-old man who is somewhat socially awkward. I want to start dating and hopefully find that special someone. The problem is, I have an addiction. It's not to alcohol or drugs, but to online games.
I have been gaming since I was 18, shortly after I joined the military, and it has been the majority of my social interaction. I have avoided friends and family and spent thousands of dollars over the years on this "hobby." I have tried several times to quit. I succeed for a few months, but I always go back, thinking I can play just a little bit. I sincerely want to quit. I don't want to go on like this, but I don't know how to break this cycle.
Until I can sort this out, I don't think I should become involved with anyone else. I feel like if I don't do this now, this is what the rest of my life will be, and it's frightening. Counseling is out of the question because I would have to report it to my job, which could jeopardize my future employment. Is there any advice about how to fix this problem? -- LOST IN CYBERSPACE
DEAR LOST: I'm glad you have recognized that your gaming has become a problem and want to do something about it. That's the first step in fixing it.
Video games are the fastest-growing form of media entertainment. Because of the sophisticated technology involved, the games can be addictive, and the social aspects of them can make them a hard habit to break without professional help. Treatment may involve private counseling or even require inpatient care. However, if that is unworkable, On-Line Gamers Anonymous (olganon.org) may be a helpful alternative for you. It is a 12-step program based on the principles of AA. You may want to check it out.