What Is Gambling Addiction And How To Deal With It
Gambling addiction is a term used to describe the dependence that some players have with respect to money-earning games. These games traditionally include classic casino table games (such as Roulette and Blackjack), slots, lotteries, scratch cards, horse races, sports betting and card games, particularly the various forms of poker. If you are struggling now with this problem, we recommend you to read the gambling addiction guide for Canadians. Gambling addiction is an increasingly common problem because of the ease of access to online gambling options and the proliferation of such sites.
When Gambling Becomes a Problem
Gambling addiction is debilitating. It affects more men are than women and this form of dependence, like all addictions, can gradually transform your life in a continuous cycle of despair and depression.
The Power of Small Wins: How Dopamine Controls The Life of a Gambler
Every time a player earns a small amount, dopamine is released in his brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, that is, a molecule that transmits information between neurons. Our brain releases this substance during pleasureful experiences, such as great food, sex, meditation, drug use, family reunions and yes, gambling. That’s why it’s dubbed the “happiness hormone.”
The addicted gambler is, therefore, in a constant quest for his dopamine fix and hopes for a higher and longer-lasting dose.
How To Spot Gambling Addiction
It’s easy to view ourselves as the exception to the rule – or more durable than the disease – but the reality is that humans all have weaknesses. Some individuals are more aware than others of the dangers and pitfalls that come with pleasureful activities. Still, we’re all capable of developing a form of addiction at any point during our lifetime.
Although all forms of dependence share one common denominator – the uncontrollable urge to consume a particular product or perform a certain act – gambling addiction has a specific set of symptoms. Whether you’re concerned about a family member or friend, or that you’re wondering if your level of enthusiasm for the latest online slots is acceptable, searching for answers if a healthy way to deal with something that may hide essential issues.
As a stepping point, we’ve elaborated a checklist that will demonstrate if you should be paying closer attention.
The 5 signs of gambling addiction:
- Increasing or incessant concern with playing casino games: The first sign is the most obvious one. The addicted player devotes most or all of his time with casino games to a point this activity occupies all of his spare time.
- Lying: The player hides and makes excuses for time spent playing. Example: he hasn’t played online poker all night but did some internet research for a business idea. He hasn’t been sick with the flu but played online slots all day.
- Chasing millions: They’re always playing for the “big one”… He pictures himself above it all and living an idyllic life… He defeated the system while playing games and is now debt-free, carefree and sitting in his 12-bedroom mansion in the South of France.
- Dept accumulation and vanishing money: The player has accumulated debts from different sources. These sources are usually close family members, friends, co-workers or even loan sharks. He might have secretly sold expensive items to feed his incessant gaming needs or pay his debts. These are usually jewellery, cars and real estate.
- Aggressivity and irritability: Gambling addiction is part of a lifestyle. It’s characterized by poor eating habits, late nights, little sleep, little or no exercise, weak social interactions, poor money-related decisions and the loss of assets. It results in stresses that make the gambler easily irritable and increasingly aggressive to the people in his life.
How And Where You Can Get Help To Begin Gambling Addiction Treatment?
A gambling problem could be described as a bad habit on steroids. While the term “addiction” is mostly used concerning a form of chemical dependency (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.), gambling addiction is rooted in receiving a tiny dose of dopamine triggered by money earned while playing games. It is similar to the small buzz we get when someone “likes” our photo or post on social media.
Like all forms of addiction, gambling dependency is dynamic, which means that it can manifest itself through exposure, grow or diminish and even be erased. Ex-cigarette smokers often can’t believe their now former addiction, which required to puff away 10-20 times a day.
It is merely due to the neuroscience of habits, and our brain’s capacity to form pathways as we engage in a new activity. In other words, any person can change his or her brain by simply focusing and practicing new activities.
How to stop gambling addiction
The 5 steps to deal with gambling addiction
Step 1: Acceptance
A person who is addicted is essentially a suffering individual. The first step to recovery will be to accept that he’s dealing with a severe problem, one that could result in bankruptcy, years of financial struggle and even suicide.
Step 2: Come clean
The gambler needs to reach out to his close people and open-up about his addiction. The is probably the most difficult step as this will require him to expose his excuses, lies and explain the loss of money or assets. But honesty is the cornerstone of any recovery. Complete disclosure to the spouse is required at some point during this process.
Step 3: Get help
Asking and searching for help will force the gambler to communicate about his addiction and addressing an issue is always the first step to getting it resolved. For this, he will require a support team and allies (see links below) that will help him stop this endless cycle.
There are several competent groups and organizations that specialize in this process, and it’s usually a great way to gain support. If the player feels completely isolated, contacting a doctor could prove to be the best way forward.
Step 4: Stop playing
Ceasing playing casino games requires complete dedication as well as full attention and engagement. It may need the gambler to have his online accounts closed, having him submit a blacklisting request to these sites and/or land casinos.
It will require close monitoring and any urge must be addressed immediately, without delay. Gambler’s support team should be well defined, and some members easily reachable, similarly to what alcoholics practice with the infamous Alcoholics Anonymous.
Step 5: Create new habits
Ceasing gambling will create a void in the player’s life that needs to be addressed to ensure success. The best way to get rid of a bad habit is to create a new healthy habit. According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes roughly 2 months of daily practice to create a new automatic habit.
Of course, there are steps to get there and a person will improve incrementally. Therefore, positive signs will appear just a few weeks after the beginning of the recovery process.
Find Healthier Gambling Substitutes
Remember, the reason you have an addiction is not because of the gambling itself but because of the feeling that you get from it. Therefore, you need to seek healthier activities or hobbies that can give you the same feeling.
You can try the following options as healthier substitutes to give you the same feeling of excitement that gambling does:
- Daily Meditation
- Rock Climbing
- Learn A New Skill
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, will focus on changing your false beliefs and rationalizations for gambling. CBT can also give you tools for coping with gambling addiction and even help you in other related areas of your life, such as financial or relationship problems.
Resources For Gambling Addiction Help
In Canada, there are several government entities and sponsored programs for addicted gamblers. Here’s a short list to get you started:
- Gambling Addiction Test (http://www.jeu-aidereference.qc.ca/www2/Article/213/en/gambling-addiction-test)
- Canada Safety Council (https://canadasafetycouncil.org/gambling-addiction/)
- Canadian Centre For Addiction (https://canadiancentreforaddictions.org/understanding-addiction/gambling-addiction/)
- Gamblers Anonymous (http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/addresses)