For the last three years I have been a student in the university, far from my hometown. I had the misfortune of falling prey to the addiction of playing video games on the Internet, which has caused me to lose two years of study and to make little headway in my career. Over this past year I have been trying to change, but the addiction consumes me. I feel very badly about this; I need help!

Dear Friend,

There are many reasons why a bright young student like you might become addicted to gaming on the web. You may have a problem with impulse control, an addictive personality, or a void that you are trying to fill. But what matters is not why this happened, but what you can do about it now.

You have three enemies that are making it difficult for you to overcome your addiction. The first enemy, which leads to the other two, is shame. You are ashamed (for good reason) of your behavior. You are certainly ashamed that you have lost two years of your life. And you may be ashamed because your parents have been helping pay your bills, and this is how you have repaid their sacrifice. In order to fight the next two enemies, you must first face your shame.

Your shame has led you to keep this addiction as a secret from most everyone you know. That secret is your second enemy. And since you have kept your problem as a secret, you have not enlisted other people to help you, letting your isolation become your third enemy.

There is only one way to stop this behavior that is destroying your life. You must face the shame, tell your secret, and get help from other people. It will not be easy, but if you are serious about changing, it will be a good start.

Your university probably has a counseling department or a health department. Go there today and tell them your problem. They can direct you to a professional or a group that can help. If you can’t get help there, go to a medical doctor for advice. You cannot do this alone!

Stay away from friends who encourage you to play video games with them or with others on the web. Swallow your shame, and tell your close friends that you have this addiction and that you need their help. True friends will help you in your struggle and help you become accountable for your actions.

The Apostle Peter affirms that “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”(1) Your addiction to gaming has mastered you, and you have been a willing slave. Do you really want to be a slave? If not, ask God to give you the courage and strength to take these steps. Ask God for His forgiveness, in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, and He will give you a clean heart. Your parents may take awhile to forgive you and trust you, but your Heavenly Father will forgive you and help you begin again. Just ask Him.

We wish you well,

1 2P 2:19