Gaming Addiction – An interview with Cam Adair

  • Gaming Disorder has been recognised as a mental health condition
  • Read about Cam’s experience – he offers help and advice for those suffering with gaming addiction
  • Do not suffer in silence – if you need help, speak out

Gaming Disorder is very real. It was only this year, in the revised International Classification of Diseases (ICD), that Gaming Disorder has finally been recognised as a mental health condition. There are several signs that someone is addicted to gaming such as constantly thinking about gaming, loss of interest in other hobbies or jeopardising school, work or relationships. If you are concerned about gaming habits, whether it is your own habits, a loved one’s or a friend’s, then please take this quiz. Please note this is an informal screening tool and for a proper assessment you should seek the help of a professional.

We spoke with Cam Adair, the founder of Game Quitters. This is a website he set up in an attempt to try and help people in a similar situation as he was 7 years ago. Originally from Canada, Cam suffered with this issue himself and when he eventually accepted his problem and tried to do something about it he realised there was not sufficient help available for people with the issue. He felt he had to help.

Cam - mugshot
Cam Adair, founder of Game Quitters. Credit: Deepak Kanda.

“I started working on this 7 years ago. Back then, there was maybe a handful of people speaking about this issue. I realised when I shared my story, I was hearing tens of thousands of people asking me for help.”

“It was this crazy situation I found myself in, hearing people say, ‘I want to quit but I don’t know how’ and there being no resources or support available. I was a bit frustrated, after 4 years, there was still no help available, so that’s when I decided I would try to do something about and that’s when the website was launched.”

Cam, who was named in Canada’s Top 150 leaders in Mental Health, was addicted to gaming for 10 years, which caused him to drop out of college and spend his days playing video games in his parent’s basement for up to 16 hours every day. This led to an unhealthy lifestyle which included lying about jobs and deceiving his family. Cam felt extremely alone and one night, he wrote a suicide note because he felt he couldn’t carry on feeling like this.

“I was at the point where I just wanted things to stop. I was frustrated at the lack of commitment I had. This happened a few times in my life where I had gone through the question: am I serious about suicide? If I am, I should be doing something about it instead of torturing myself with my thoughts. I eventually got to the point where enough was enough.”

“I was fortunate enough that a friend reached out to me and asked me to go and see a movie. It allowed me to be in a position to laugh and be around other people. It made me realise my situation was more dire than I thought it was and that I needed to seek help.”

“I went home that night and told my dad I wasn’t doing so well and that I needed help. I always knew I could go to my parents. In that moment, it was very real, and I needed someone, and they were able to support me.”

For Cam, having people around him that he knew he could rely on was crucial in taking the first step. His family were willing to support him and Cam believes having a support network is vital in getting the help you need.

“Having a support network is very important whether its mental health or an addiction, it’s very isolating. 60 Minutes Australia did a piece on a parent who was struggling. She had a 13-year-old who was refusing to go to school because of gaming. She received intense backlash from the public and there was a petition to remove the kid from her care because she was a bad parent”.

“At the same time this was happening, she had over 500 parents join her Facebook group her were asking for help. The biggest commonality between these parents was the sentiment that they were so relieved because they were no longer alone”.

“Addiction mentality is very isolating. My thesis on this is that most people who need help will not seek professional support. They will not walk into a doctor’s office, tell a student counsellor, a teacher or a parent. They will search online and hopefully discover our community.”

“The entire culture of this community is that you should seek help” 

Cam set up Game Quitters to help and offer a support network for those who are struggling but he still believes there are not enough services available for people who need it. He also spoke about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) plans to offer a screening tool within 5 years.

“Personally, I have the belief that we need a wider range of services. The WHO has a 5-year goal to have a world-class screening tool for professional to be able to assess someone’s situation. That’s not even treatment protocol – it’s very basic. Is it great they’re doing this, yes. But it’s horribly slow. We need to be moving a lot faster.”

Another imperative aspect in helping gamers with their addiction is creation versus consumption. Cam argues it is more beneficial to harness technology to create as it can offer fulfilment as opposed to just endlessly consuming.

“One of the big things I talk about is the idea of creation instead of consumption. If we’re using technology, using it to create and be productive and learn coding or music production. Do something that we’re able to see what we have achieved. I focus on engagement which creates fulfilment.”

“That’s the part no one focuses on enough. When we’re having a discussion whether video gaming addiction is real or not there’s a huge aspect that people don’t touch on. We’re raising an entire generation with a warped perception of value for effort and reward.”

Life after gaming

Cam Adair - surfing
Since quitting gaming, Cam has found new hobbies such as surfing and learning how to DJ. Credit: Deepak Kanda.

Cam hasn’t played a video game in over 7 years and his life has completely changed. He has his own business, has learned to code and surf and gives talks all around the world. Game Quitters supports over 50,000 people in 94 countries.

“I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m proud of who I am”

Cam has also recently announced a partnership with The Cabin, a video game addiction rehab for young adults. You can see the promotional video below.

Here are the relevant links to follow Cam Adair on social media and the link for his websites.

Websites:

Social Media:

If you need help and are based in the UK, you can visit www.ukat.co.uk or www.rehab4addiction.co.uk for a range of help services.

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