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Church youth groups urged to tackle loneliness as NHS starts gaming addiction treatment

by Tola Mbakwe

Adam Brennan's comments come after the NHS announced on Tuesday it is opening a clinic to help young people who are seriously addicted to computer games.

GPs will be able to refer 13 to 24 year-olds in England to get help from professionals over Skype.

Brennan said as a teenager he would spend around 12 hours a day on video games and noticed that the problem stemmed from feeling isolated.

"We all have a longing to belong, but I felt kind of isolated.

"My childhood wasn't exactly the best. My parents got divorced when I was very young and there was a lot of abuse in the house. For me, video games provided that outlet to just escape from reality."

Brennan said the more he played, the more he became isolated.

"I started to lose track of what was real from what was just fantasy. You're kind of almost able to become someone else in these video games and it's fine when you're playing it, but when you go back out into society, it's a bit of a shock to the system because you no longer have that illusion of power that you have in these video games.

"You have to face real life and I think it got to the point where it became too much and I had to reassess whether or not I wanted to keep doing this."

Brennan said when he became a Christian he gave gaming cold turkey for a few years and now plays occasionally without any problem.

He explained that learning about his "identity in Christ" helped him.

"Once I found my identity...then I was able to sort of be more comfortable and just sort of free," he said.

While he thinks the NHS specialist treatment for young people struggling with gaming addiction is helpful, he urged church youth groups to be more vocal about young people setting boundaries with video games and stressed the importance of being having a sense of community.

"Provide a place of community for the young people where they feel like they can belong, where they feel like their identity isn't just in these kind of fantasy roles and video games. They can find their identity in their community and church and family."

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