Playing Tetris Each Day Can Boost Addiction Recovery
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Playing Tetris Each Day Can Boost Addiction Recovery

Dr. Gerardo Sison

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Gerardo Sison

April 1, 2019

Recently, psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia revealed that playing Tetris may help curb addiction cravings. This breakthrough suggests that other types of behavioral modification or re-direction may be beneficial for treating addiction. And the best part is you can probably download this recovery app on your phone for free!

What The Research Suggests

In previous Tetris studies, researchers only studied the effect that it had on the brain’s generalized functions. However, the two previously mentioned studies were intrigued by the ways that it might help addiction and published their findings in the journal “Addictive Behaviors.”

During the experiment, researchers monitored thirty-one undergraduates, aged 18 to 27. Fifteen of the participants engaged in Tetris to moderate their cravings. All the participants were prompted, via text message, to report their cravings at seven points throughout the day. In addition, they were asked to disclose any other cravings they felt.

Researchers then compared the severity of the cravings before and after Tetris gameplay. The Queensland study saw benefits after only three minutes of play every day. It also documented that cravings dropped as much as 14 percent.

This is an improvement over the more generalized studies that suggested 13 minutes of Tetris every day for a similar reduction in cravings.

Why Does Playing Tetris Reduce Cravings?

It is theorized that playing Tetris occupies the portion of the brain that is responsible for creating imagery. So while an individual is playing, their mental processes are devoted to the game and supersede the imagining that creates cravings.

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Researchers propose that if they can provide an individual with a method for circumventing their cravings and reducing the times an individual uses, then these methods—like Tetris—could become a useful support tool throughout the duration of recovery.

Relevance Of Other Tetris Studies on Addictions

The previous studies on Tetris found that it increased brain efficiency and thickened parts of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is responsible for the following brain functions: attention, reward-based decision-making, the ability to make rational and sound decisions, and the ability to override impulsive urges.

Drug addictions can directly impede the functionality of these areas of the brain, further hampering recovery by causing decreased judgment and impulsive behaviors. It has been documented, through Magnetic Resonance Imaging that individuals that struggle with a cocaine addiction have a major reduction in cortical thickness in the frontal regions of the brain.

The fact that playing Tetris increases cortex thickness holds startling implications: if an individual was able to gain back some of their cortical volume, experts think that they may regain control over their addiction.

What The Future Holds

Further studies are needed before researchers understand the full implications of this discovery. This study was unique as it tested people outside of a laboratory and the results were based on their interactions and responses to the specific stimuli of their lives.

Keep in mind this research suggests that Tetris may be a useful tool, but not a complete solution. But the good news is that playing Tetris could be curbing a craving before it takes root. Based on the research, Tetris-distraction works best if integrated as soon as you feel cravings.

Contact us at RehabCenter.net for updates on other new research in the field of addictions.

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