Who knew that distracting yourself with an old video game could be the key to reducing everyday common cravings and combatting addictive behaviors?
According to a recent report published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, playing Tetris on a smartphone or android for a few minutes can decrease cravings for food, drugs, and miscellaneous activities by as much as one-fifth.
Most studies that evaluate strategies to reduce cravings are lab-based; however, in this study, researchers observed people in their natural settings outside of the laboratory. Each participant was monitored for craving levels and prompted to play Tetris at random times throughout the day.
“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity,” said study author Dr. Jackie Andrade. “Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”
Study participants included 31 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 27. Participants were split into either a control group or the Tetris group.
The Tetris group was provided with an iPod for the weeklong study and were prompted seven times daily to report the following: the strength of their cravings, whether they had indulged in previous cravings, and whether they were under the influence of alcohol. They were then instructed to play Tetris for three minutes and prompted to report on the strength of their cravings again. Their compliance rate was 77%.
Study findings suggest that playing Tetris for three minutes reduced cravings by about 14% for miscellaneous activities (e.g., intercourse, sleeping, etc.), drugs, and food.
Researchers conclude that playing Tetris may be a possible long-term solution to help individuals reduce detrimental cravings in their everyday lives.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Skorka-Brown, J., et al., “Playing Tetris decreases drug and other cravings in real world settings,” Addictive Behaviors 2015; 51: 165, doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.07.020. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306460315002762
“Tetris can block cravings, new study reveals,” ScienceDaily web site, August 13, 2015; www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150813101535.htm.