How To Beat Your DOTA Addiction

Defence of The Ancients or better known as Dota is one of the most popular multiplayer online battle arenas out there. The most popular version of the game to date is Dota 2 which was released by Valve back in 2013. Since then the game has remained a fan staple racking up an average player base of around 450,000 a month. With so much success, the game is obviously doing something right to keep people playing. But, what happens to those who can’t stop? In this article, we are going to explain the best ways to identify and overcome an addiction to Dota.


Signs & Symptoms of DOTA Addiction

When it comes to identifying an addiction to video games it’s difficult for the gamer themselves to step back and realise the faults in their gaming habits. However, here are some of the main symptoms to be aware of to see if you or your loved ones are at risk of addiction.

Lying To Conceal Gaming Habits

People suffering from an addiction often feel ashamed of their inability to control their vice, especially when it comes to video game addiction. There is a lot of guilt and anxiety that comes along with gaming taking over a person’s life and not being able to resist the urge to play. Hence many addicts lie about their behaviour and gaming habits. Making up excuses as to why they can’t make it to a social event, lying about why they cancelled plans or making up how they’ll spend the evening to cover up the fact that they will be gaming.

If you feel like you or someone you care about is exhibiting this behaviour then it might be time to consider getting some help

Irritability or Agitation When Not Able to Play 

Addicted gamers tend to become short-tempered, snappy and very restless when they aren’t able to play video games. Gaming is often obsessively on their minds, so it can really detract from their attention and capacity to deal with difficult tasks that require patience and thinking. It’s quite common for people addicted to video games to have a fall in performance at work or in school for this reason.

Playing video games is usually the motivation behind addicted gamers carrying out their tasks for the day. So when met with circumstances that prevent them from doing this, for example, a colleague requiring help with some work, they are less inclined to be helpful towards them.

This isn’t exclusive to the adult world. Many already very angsty teens fall victim to video game addiction as they make up a large population of the gaming community. Parents put it down to hormones and general teenage rebellion but it’s possible that video game addiction can be contributing to their unpleasant behaviour.

If you begin to notice this behaviour then it might be time to get the video game addiction treatment you deserve

Loss of Interest In Previous Hobbies

Those suffering from video game addiction, post all over the internet on forums such as Reddit. Explaining that they would like to give up gaming but they find every other activity except gaming boring. However, we’re here to explain that it is not entirely their fault and there is a good reason for feeling like this.

Gaming is an activity like no other. It provides rewards and satisfaction through measurable growth, it provides social stimulation and means of interacting with friends. And, we can relax and play them from the comfort of our own homes to unwind. So when we attempt to simply pick up a book and start reading instead of playing video games, we are met with a lot of resistance from either ourselves or as many parents might know, their children.

Understandably, these individual activities cannot substitute the stimulation that gaming provides us and hence we find them boring, even if we used to enjoy them before. We explain how to overcome this problem in the how to treat your Dota addiction section so keep on reading if you’d like to find out more.

Other Symptoms To Be Aware Of

The aforementioned symptoms aren’t the only symptoms that can be a presentation of video game addiction. Everyone is different hence their signs and symptoms can vary, that’s why it’s important to be aware of all of them.

Common symptoms include:

  • Obsessive thinking about video games
  • Strain or damage to personal relationships
  • Fall in performance in work or school
  • Poor physical health or hygiene due to neglect
  • Decline in mental health and general mood
  • Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality
  • Headaches and eye strain
  • Repetitive strain injuries (eg carpal tunnel, tennis elbow)
  • Impulse control and inability to resist urges to play

The purpose of stating these symptoms is to help make us more vigilant to the signs of gaming addiction so that we can identify them and get help. Many of the symptoms of video game addiction are in line with symptoms of mental health conditions such as OCD and depression. Therefore it is important to get a medical opinion to rule out any underlying issues.

There has been evidence to suggest that comorbid mental health conditions such as anxiety contribute to video game addiction. Thus treating these first will help in decreasing the symptoms of your gaming addiction.

Why DOTA Is So Addictive

The symptoms of video game addiction tend to be quite general across most games. However, their addictive qualities may share a similar pattern but they are usually harnessed in very interesting ways to keep the user playing. So without any further ado, let’s get into what makes Dota specifically so addictive.

Provides Measurable Growth & Rewards

Many of the elitists who play Dota claim that it is a game of real skill. With great skill comes a great investment of time to improve and hence making them more susceptible to developing an addiction. When players begin playing Dota, admittedly the skill ceiling is high compared to other MOBAs and the game is notoriously difficult as a beginner. However, those who see the potential to improve in the game often resort to playing more, watching guides and striving to get better to climb the ranks.

There are 36 ranks in Dota with the average player only making it to Archon 3, roughly halfway up them. This is just a testament to the game’s difficulty. But this is the element of the game that keeps people playing. Improving in the game serves as a challenge to many gamers. Something to give them purpose and overcome.

Humans have an innate desire to set goals and accomplish difficult tasks, hence why we praise and look up to other people who have been able to achieve great things. With the game having a high skill cap and 122 heroes to learn, the game walks the fine line between a challenge to overcome and a fun video game.

As players climb the ranks they are validating their success which is often the measurable growth we lack in life sometimes. The problem with this is that video games offer a shortcut to instant gratification. We can hop on and win a game of Dota in 50 minutes at any time we want to get that sense of accomplishment. But this takes away from our motivation to achieve other difficult tasks in life outside of gaming. This is why gaming addiction can often be associated with depression as it offers an opportunity to stifle their feelings of hopelessness through gaming.


Dota 2 is arguably one of the most successful competitive games out there with an international prize pool of $40 million. The game having such a successful competitive model really appeals to those who love the feeling of competition. The game offers a safe way for players to battle against one another, feeling the adrenaline rush, high stakes situations and glory of winning all from the comfort of their bedroom.

Therefore players dedicate themselves to playing in online tournaments and climbing the ranked ladder to earn the respect of their adversaries. As gaming has developed throughout the years, now more than ever being a competitive gamer has become a viable career option for young hungry gamers. This situation is particularly prevalent in South Korea where students spend most of their lives in PC Bangs (Internet cafes) sharpening their skills to become Esports players as an escape from poverty.

The rates of gaming addiction due to this has risen so much, that the government has declared it a national crisis and put forth treatment and prevention methods in the form of youth rehabilitation camps.

Obviously, the chances of becoming a professional gamer in one of the worlds most competitive games are very slim. Hence many people are left with nothing to show for their efforts except an addiction to Dota.

Escape From Reality

One of the main reasons for developing an addiction to Dota is the escape from reality that the game offers. A lot of people who are addicted to video games often use them to run from difficult situations and negative thoughts or emotions that they might be struggling to deal with. Gaming has been shown to reduce the effects of negative emotions such as sadness, anger and anxiety in the moment. Hence it offers a quick fix for their problems.

Each game can offer roughly 40 minutes of intense concentration and immersion which helps players reach a state of focus where they are oblivious to all else except the game. In other words, it really takes your mind away from your problems. People begin to rely on Dota as their vice to cope with their problems and before they know it they are completely addicted.

The problem with doing this is there is no sustainability in coping with stress, anxiety or difficult situations at home like this. Negative emotions are part of our emotional growth and learning to healthily deal with them is an inevitable part of life. Running from them leads to a cycle of addiction as it exacerbates how overwhelming these feelings can be when we are not used to engaging with them. Thus it leads to us running back to video games again.

When it comes to treating video game addiction lots of work is dedicated to learning how to cope with emotions, thoughts and cravings. So keep on reading to find out how.

How To Treat Your DOTA Addiction 

Although more people are being made aware of video game addiction as a serious condition, those who suffer from it sometimes struggle to find the help and useful advice they need. So, here are the most effective treatment methods for overcoming an addiction to Dota.

Detoxing from Dota

When we say detoxing from Dota we mean taking a break from Dota and all video game-related content for an extended period. We usually recommend 90 days as this is the right amount of time to allow our brains to recover from the chemical imbalances excessive gaming has caused.

Also taking a break from video games is usually what the addict needs to get some perspective on life without video games. It’s very likely that someone addicted to Dota has forgotten what life was like without it. People who complete a detox and discover other pleasures in life outside of gaming often don’t want to return as they have other interests and don’t want to ruin the progress they have made.

Members of our gaming addiction program that complete the detox explain that they feel a reduction in their addictive symptoms by 3 weeks in. Users that complete our course of video game addiction treatment report that they have improvements in many areas of their life such as relationships, motivation, physical health, general mood and energy.

So we strongly urge that you cut out Dota and all other video games for a 90 day period to help get your life back on track.

Finding Alternative Activities

Obviously cutting out the video game responsible for your addiction is easier said than done. But there are a few things that we can do in order to make it easier. The main option we recommend for anyone cutting out video games is to find alternative activities to gaming. When a person cuts out video games that they would likely play for 8 hours on the trot it’s clear that they will be left with a lot of free time.

Often when the individual spends their free time doing nothing it leads to boredom, frustration and ultimately relapse back to playing video games. In order to avoid this, we recommend that you find a different activity for each type of stimulation that gaming offers.

As we mentioned earlier, that would be measurable growth, social interaction and relaxation.

Activities for Measurable Growth Try taking up things like coding, musical instruments or your favourite sport. These offer great opportunities to see similar growth the way we like to see improvements in video games.

Social Interaction – Activities like joining a dance class, martial arts gym or team sports provide a social setting to meet and connect with other people who are like-minded. Cutting out video games can also mean cutting out a lot of friends you only knew through gaming so this can help us to build new valuable relationships outside of gaming.

Relaxing Activities – Gaming is certainly low energy and easily accessible which is why it makes such a great relaxation activity. However, some great alternatives are things like reading, drawing, or even cooking a simple dish.

Substituting these activities for the different times we feel like playing video games can help prevent us from relapsing back into playing video games again.

CBT For Gaming Addiction

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it is one of the most effective methods of treating video game addiction. The primary focus of CBT is to change the negative thoughts that lead to us playing video games into healthier alternatives.

This is primarily done through various meditations, exercises and thought experiments that help us to reduce the impact of our addictive urges. These exercises can be carried out during in-person therapy, using guided audio lessons or on your own when you get really good at them.

CBT is extremely effective in treating many other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and OCD. The techniques included help to generally increase the quality of life of many of its users, so its applications are far-reaching.

So, here is one exercise we can do to get us started. This exercise is called Self-Affirming Statements and they are used to counteract negative thoughts.

We recommend that you use a pen and paper or even keep a journal if you like to be more organised. Every time that we begin to feel overwhelmed or plagued by negative thoughts we should pick up our journal and write down a self-affirmation that counteracts the negative thoughts we are having, one at a time.

More often than not our negative thoughts are inaccurate, unrealistic or plain and simply wrong. So this activity should help us to change them to more positive modes of thinking. For instance, if you begin to feel thoughts like “I am worthless, I have no accomplishments” We need to write down statements such as “I am a person with worth and potential” By writing these affirmations down we help to remember and solidify their place in our mind.

So whenever you begin to feel any negative thoughts or cravings creeping in be sure to give this a try!

If you feel like you’ve been playing too much Dota or any other video game. The Mindful Gamer is always here to help with your goals to quit or cut down.