Brain games

jigsaw puzzle

For many people going through psychiatric drug withdrawal, doing some kind of brain game or puzzle, however simple, can serve as a useful distraction—a way to keep the mind occupied and focused on something other than looping thoughts, physical pain, or other withdrawal symptoms. For some of us, especially those who experience withdrawal-related cognitive or memory issues, brain games provide another self-perceived benefit as well: an inner sense that we’re helping to stimulate the brain and possibly promote the process of healing the brain itself.

Here are just a few of the brain games and puzzles that our (lay) friends in the withdrawal community say they find helpful:

  • Jigsaw puzzles. There’s a wide range out there, from easy to super challenging, and some are visually attractive or interesting as well. A jigsaw puzzle can be a solitary respite or an activity that lends itself to being quietly worked on by more than one person, should you feel like having company but aren’t up to talking so much.
  • Crossword puzzles. These come in a fairly broad range of difficulty and are available in book form or as apps for your phone or tablet. While crossword puzzles are often a solitary endeavor, some people like doing them together with another person.
  • Word games. Some games are played online, like Words with Friends, an activity that generally involves other players. But if you’re worried that your word retrieval isn’t up to par, let’s say, or if you’re not feeling so sociable (even remotely), you can always fiddle around with a Scrabble or Bananagrams game on your own.
  • Sudoku. More inclined toward numbers than words? Sudoku games are available not only in the form of puzzle books but also online and via apps. 
  • Miscellaneous online programs and apps. There are a ton of these available, offering exercises aimed at improving attention, memory, concentration, reaction speed, and other cognitive skills. Some are free, while others allow a certain amount of free exploration before encouraging you to subscribe. Two programs that we’re aware of are Brain HQ and Lumosity, but if you’re interested in this type of activity, we’d suggest exploring on your own to find one that best suits you.jigsaw puzzle pieces