Is a solitaire addiction a real problem in today's modern world? Some people in powerful places believe it is. In 2005, North Carolina State Senator Austin Allran proposed anti-solitaire legislation. He wanted to erase all games, especially solitaire, from all computers in state use. Allran felt that government employees were spending too much time being idle and wasting taxpayer's money. He believed that millions would be gained in increased worker productivity. On a similar note, New York City Mayor Bloomberg recently fired a city employee for playing solitaire during work hours.
The Roots of Solitaire Addiction
Solitaire is found on almost every personal and work computer produced. Most of the time, solitaire is a simple game used to pass the time while waiting for the computer to finish other functions. Or, solitaire is a way to "escape" from the real world for a short period of time. It is a way to relax and have fun, with no Internet connection required. But, solitaire can quickly become an addiction closely related to computer addiction and Internet addiction. In fact, many of the signs and symptoms are the same.
Symptoms of Solitaire Addiction
Signs of an addiction to solitaire are similar to those associated with computer addiction. Warning signs to look for include:
- Getting a "rush" when playing the game
- Feeling guilty about playing the game, even as you continue to play
- Not being able to control the amount of time you spend playing solitaire
- Lying about the amount of time you spend playing and thinking about the game
- Becoming upset when someone or something in real life interrupts your game playing time
- Playing solitaire when you are sad or upset to avoid dealing with your feelings
In addition to the symptoms named above, physical warning signs can also be evident:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Reoccurring head and backaches
- Dry eyes
- Trouble staying on a regular eating schedule
- Neglect of personal hygiene
Where to Find Help
Fortunately for people addicted to computer games like solitaire, help is readily available. One of the most prominent persons in the field of computer addiction is Maressa Hecht Orzack, Ph.D. She is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Massachusetts and also lectures in the field of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Hecht Orzack used to be addicted to solitaire. She found herself playing it more and more when trying to learn a difficult software program. She even stayed up late to play the game and began avoiding learning the new program. At this point, Hecht Orzack realized she had a solitaire addiction. She founded Computer Addiction Service at McLean Hospital, an associate of Harvard Medical School, and continues to coordinate its programming.
Hecht Orzack recommends cognitive behavior therapy to treat solitaire addiction. With this kind of treatment, patients are taught to identify the problem and then solve it. After the problem has been solved, the former addict learns coping skills to prevent relapses. Additionally, Hecht Orzack feels that peer support groups are a good way to help addicts. Medications may be useful, but should only be used under the supervision of a medical doctor. Finally, Hecht Orzack feels that computer addiction, Internet addiction, or game playing addiction should not be treated online.