The gambling industry has been depicted in many films as a place where people enjoy winning and losing large sums of money in casinos. When they win, they are euphoric and enjoy life as if it were the last day. When they fail, they go deep, selling everything they have and even risking their lives.
Whether one plays poker, roulette, or slot machines does not matter. Anyone can become gambling dependent if he is susceptible to it. This can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or education. Some people become gambling dependent in their middle age or later, which can ruin everything they have built up.
Sadly, the family and friends often realize something is wrong too late. They may think it is a good way to relieve stress and socialize, but the problem is much more serious. Gamblers are addicted to gambling to the point that they cannot think of anything else besides playing, regardless of how much money they may lose.
Here we will discuss gabbling addiction disease, its causes, characteristics, symptoms, and how it can be prevented.
What is gambling addiction?
The main difference between compulsive gambling and other addictions like drugs, alcohol, or cigarette is that it is not a chemical addiction. However, the psychological and emotional dependency is the same that the sufferer wants to escape from everyday reality. For some people, it means stress, family problems, illnesses, etc. So, the aim of playing is to get into a state which is different from real life.
Basically, compulsive gamblers are attracted to the possibility of winning a big, easy prize. Everything seems to revolve around money in our society. Often it’s how people define themselves and measure their success. There’s always a message that says we need more money and that it’ll make us happier. For someone, it might be the reason to start gambling to solve those financial problems or to earn easy money.
Over time, it becomes more than simply money. Gambling is no longer about getting money anymore; it is more about the need to feel that massive emotional boost that comes when big money flows in. After a while, the addict is willing to do almost anything because of the adrenaline rush of winning.
While this article focuses on gambling problems such as online or offline casinos, lottery, betting, etc., I must mention that computer games can be as addictive as well. In both cases, the excitement drives that addiction. However, playing computer games does not usually result in serious financial problems.
The stages of gaming addiction
As soon as someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, the physical effects will begin to show themselves. Unfortunately, with gambling disorders, we cannot see such signs at the beginning. Gamblers believe it is just a new habit, and there are no problems with playing with a few dollars once in a while. It is hard to realize problems not just for themselves but also for those around them.
There is a gradual development of pathological gambling, just as with other types of addictions.
When players start out, they win more than they lose. After a few successful wins, the player only remembers the positives, considering it a personal success experience. That gives them a false expectation that they can make easy money. The sense of security he feels encourages him to play more frequently, at higher stakes, and more often.
Anyway, we have the same feeling when we play anything. The more successful we are in it, the more we want to play. Just think about computer games or even chess.
Next, it becomes an established habit. Playing is not merely a way to switch off the brain and forget the daily troubles anymore. As the person becomes increasingly engaged in playing, work, learning, and family are placed in secondary status. As the desire to play increases, the intensity, passion, and frequency of playing increase as well. In this stage, people with less money start borrowing money. People with more money lose more and more money.
The addiction process culminates in this stage, which destroys the addict’s life. At this point, the gambler no longer plays for fun or excitement, not even to win large sums of money. In order to return to the normal course of his life, he must play to regain the money he lost. However, to do so, he must obtain additional money. And he must take risks. The person desires to solve his problems without quitting.
Gamblers at this stage are aware they have a gambling addiction, yet they cannot control their behavior. Their dependence is the driving force behind their behavior.
He has already sold many of his assets or borrowed money from the people around him that he cannot repay. This leads to problems with relationships which force the player to do his best to solve his financial problems. He gets into a vicious circle. He promises everyone he will stop, but he can’t. People turn away from him, which leads to isolation and depression.
In the last stage, the compulsive gambler has lost relationships, financial stability, trust, and jobs. He cannot control his life. His thoughts are only about the desire to get back everything which pushes him even deeper into trouble.
What may be the underlying causes of gambling addiction?
It’s more likely that someone will develop an addiction if they have a family history. Family addictions are often passed down. And, if a child grows up in a family where gambling is the norm, they are at a higher risk.
There is also the environment. People who live in an area with several casinos or other places to gamble are more likely to become addicted. Gambling is constantly present in their lives, so they are constantly exposed to it.
In addition, emotional factors can influence a person’s behavior. Depressed or anxious individuals may turn to gamble as an outlet for their feelings.
It should be noted, however, that everyone is in danger. Anyone can become exposed.
What are the typical signs
- financial problems (loans, selling assets, indebtedness, bankruptcy);
- depression and loneliness;
- losing a job, underperformance in the workplace;
- psychosomatic symptoms such as headache, stomach ache, weight loss, eating disorders;
- damaged relationships;
- regular lying
Treating gambling addiction
Gambling addiction is difficult to overcome without help. Self-help groups, counseling, and medications are available for treatment.
Treating addiction starts with counseling. Therapists will work with clients to determine what caused the addiction and develop a treatment plan. Additionally, counseling can teach stress coping skills and how to deal with gambling triggers. Joining a community of people with similar illnesses who are recovering or have recovered complements this.
Medications may also be prescribed. These meds can help you reduce cravings.
Getting help for gambling addiction can be challenging because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
To sum up
Usually, drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes come to mind when we think of addiction. Gambling, however, is no less serious. It can destroy one’s life in a matter of seconds.
Setting limits is a smart way to avoid addiction. Set a budget for yourself before you play a game, regardless of whether you’re winning or losing.
If you are already addicted, however, abstinence is the only cure. It always leads to relapse when you try to “just play a little.”