Pokémon Go Helps Depression, But Could Lead You to A Drug Deal

By McCarton Ackerman 07/14/16

Pokémon Go is impacting the lives of its users in more ways than one. 

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Pokémon Go Helps Depression, But Could Lead You to A Drug Deal

Pokémon Go, the nation's newest obsession, uses your phone’s GPS to detect where you are and make Pokémon “appear” so that you catch them. The social game, based on the popular video game, has surprisingly led to people sharing on social media that the game has helped them manage their anxiety and depression. However, it’s also been leading people into both real and perceived drug deals.

Psychologist John M. Grohol reported on the phenomenon for PsychCentral. He suggested that the benefits for anxiety and depression are spurred by the game encouraging people to move around and explore their surroundings, which numerous studies have shown is beneficial for mental health. Capturing the cute creatures ends up being a way to reward people for leaving the house in a manner that doesn’t feel forced.

"For a person suffering from depression or another mood disorder, the idea of exercise can be nearly impossible to contemplate, much less do," Grohol wrote. "The developers behind Pokémon Go didn’t mean to create a mental health gaming app. But they’ve done so, and the effects seem to be largely positive."

An Oregon-based Twitter user wrote that “#PokemonGo has already been a better treatment for my depression than anything my doctor prescribed or therapist recommended,” while another user raved that the game “has changed me so much for the better in only a week. Dealing with [borderline personality disorder], depression & anxiety it has helped me get out of the house.” A Florida man even declared that Pokémon Go “is gonna cure my social anxiety. Everyone has been so nice. People are not as scary as originally perceived.”

However, a Reddit user revealed that he Pokémon Go’d himself right into the scene of a drug deal. The Londoner, who goes by the username "Jacktionman," went to score a Pidgey, one of the characters in the game, and saw two men with their phones out. He thought they were also playing the game and found them to be “friendly and accommodating,” but was surprised to find that they were actually using their phones to line up cocaine. The Reddit user cracked that “the friendly guy couldn’t understand why I’d gone up to him if I wasn’t looking to score.”

A separate Reddit user, "SlothOfDoom," revealed that a cop tried to break up his late-night Pokémon Go meet-up in a park after thinking it was a drug deal.

“So it turns out two 20-something black dudes and a 40-year-old white guy chilling in the park at 3am looks strange,” he joked. “Then the cop downloaded the fucking game on his phone and asked us how to get started. Go red team.” 

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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