The Gambler With Anxiety: How To Cope

 

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Anxiety can fuel a gambling problem.

Research has shown that there is a relation between the gambling and anxiety. The 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions raised suggestions that people with problems in gambling or pathological gambling may also be dealing with anxiety disorders. Specifically, 11% deal with generalized anxiety disorder; almost 15% experience post-traumatic stress disorder; 22% have panic disorder; and 52% are possibly suffering from a specific phobia.

“Anxiety is an adaptation of that vital and fundamental fear response. Sometimes anxiety will tell you that the worst is true.” That is according to Kristine Tye, MA, LMFT. People who are anxious may turn to gambling as a way of dealing with their problems. Some of them say that when they bet, they can separate their anxiety or turn their anxiety into excitement. Thus, the action of gambling becomes a part of their life to the point that it may overwhelm them.

Thus, to elicit change such as removing the gambling behavior, one might need to reduce or alleviate anxiety first. There are ways to do so.

Relax

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A complete psychological and physiological opposite of anxiety and worry is relaxation. Whereas panic and anxiety may show increased heart rate and the need to gasp for air, with relaxing comes a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and calm mind. If one practices to rest regularly, the effects can be significant. Although it may seem too simple, relaxing is genuinely a way by which people can learn how to counteract anxiety, as both cannot occur at once. However, true relaxation goes more than just watching TV while on the couch. Karin Draper, LMFT explains that “Anxiety can often lead to substance abuse as a means to cope, particularly for those experience social anxiety or those who experience a high level of stress and struggle to find other means of relaxation.”

There are times when anxiety levels reach high that people feel psychologically and physically bothered and uncomfortable. During these times, relaxation exercise like identifying, defusing triggers, and breaking cycles of anxiety, can help with them. One should also practice doing it daily and regularly so that they will know what to do all the time.

Pure relaxation isn’t easy, but one can get better at it through practice. Activities that help both the body and mind relax include meditation and yoga. This helps someone be more aware of their body and recognize when it’s becoming too intense. These are also easily done at your home.

Visualization Exercise

A great strategy is to mix the breathing exercise with the muscle relaxation exercises earlier along with visualization.

Visualizations work better if the individual believes that it is a safe place and if he uses the senses to imagine it to include details. This can help one to forget the negative thoughts. For example, you can imagine going to the park. In time and with enough practice, he can imagine even the birds they hear in the park, the smell of the grass, the sun on the skin, and the grass beneath the feet.

Replacement Activities

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Things people do to alleviate their anxiety is by distracting themselves. Therefore, doing something else other than gambling can help focus one’s attention and concern from the negative thoughts and worry. Once this alleviates the stress, there might be a reduction in the need to gamble. “To quell overwhelm, engage in an activity that you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading a book or taking a walk. And consider how you can solve the stressors that triggered your overwhelm in the first place” Marla W. Deibler, PsyD elaborates.

Doing another activity unrelated to gambling may mean finding new hobbies or going back to old interests. If done continuously, they may evolve in such a way that it takes over the coping mechanism of gambling to reduce anxiety and ultimately replace it. There’s no need to think too hard on what to do. It can be something as simple as reading fictional books, drawing, or listening to new music like BTS.

Be Patient

Dropping gambling isn’t something that can be done in a short time, just like how Rome wasn’t built in a day. It would take time as it would require many changes in their lifestyle like getting new skills. There will be times wherein the person involved might regress, but it’s part of the process. It takes baby steps to make significant changes, not giant leaps.

Care For Pathological Gamblers

 

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Problem gambling (or ludomania, usually referred to as “gambling addiction” or “compulsive gambling”) is an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Pathological gamblers have lost the strength to resist gambling impulses and they just accept the advances made by gambling and head straight on for it.

It is very common for pathological gamblers to feel empty as the only thing of importance is gambling and nothing else appears to matter; it becomes that bad. Then they start feeling ashamed and drift gradually away from people because they can’t stand the sight of people realizing their problem.

It all starts small, and when an activity becomes a habit, the tendency of getting addicted sets in. So, the consistent action results in not wanting to stop and gradually; it’s hard to imagine life without it. Dr. Howard Samuels, PsyD. tells everyone that “Admitting you have a problem is the first step in treating your addiction. However, due to the nature and the danger of this disease, simply just stopping on your own is highly unadvisable.”

 

Pathological gambling

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As explained by Jeremy Frank PhD CADC, a Philadelphia Psychologist & Addiction Counselor “Gambling addiction is often referred to as the “hidden illness” because there are no physical signs or symptoms that accompany it as is the case with many alcohol or drug abusers.” Pathological gambling is a disorder that is being understudied and also progressive; it is highly disabling too. It affects 2% – 3% of Americans and women make up one-quarter of all pathological gamblers. It has been found to be a result of the disorder of impulse control. According to www.medscape.com, “Prevalence estimates of pathological gambling have ranged from 0.77% to 3.4% in the US adult population”

It is very evident in males and comes in their early adult years but not very evident in females. Recently, it has become prevalent among females as they are now very much exposed to it and there’s increased accessibility to it.

Symptoms

Below are some of the signs that you’ll notice in people that are pathological gamblers:

  • Anxiety: Always eager to gamble or get involved in gambling activities and then become placed under pressure.
  • Depression: Always cut out from people and in constant thoughts about their losses.
  • Gambling tolerance: They are able to tolerate a level and now seek a greater and higher challenge every time.
  • Dishonesty: Lies surround their every word and the truth becomes far from them.
  • Accumulated debts: They borrow constantly, heaping debts on already accumulated debts.
  • Derailed Optimism: They believe that they will win but you never really truly see them win.
  • Loss: Ranging from job to relationship to friendship. Pathological gamblers lose more than money, they lose a whole of things they once had.
  • Crimes: When they get into debts, they resort to crimes to get the money they crave; and this leads them down the path of crime.

These and much more are the symptoms you’ll notice in pathological gamblers and at this point, they really need help but they will not easily move to get help and would continue to go deep down into their addiction till it’s either too late or till they get help.

Treatment/Care for PG

Though, PG can lead to suicide attempts and even suicide; it is worthy of note that it can be treated and those affected can be cared for. There is really no standardized treatment for pathological gambling, some means have been brought up and are effective for the treatment.

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  • Support groups: A very prevalent care for pathological gambling is found in meeting up with people that are also experiencing the problem and opening up so as to get charged to stop. A support group such as Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a 12-step program that aims at helping people to overcome the addiction and live free of the addiction.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT):  is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. (www.psychcentral.com)
  • Medications: Studies have shown that medications can also treat PG but the study on the particular people that will respond to the treatment is still not accurate yet. It has been found that antidepressants and opioid antagonists (naltrexone) may help treat the symptoms of pathological gambling.

It is going to be very effective if two or more of these treatment types can be used as not one of them is 100% effective. It is never too late to treat PG, and before it becomes out of your power; take that step to help someone or take that step to get it solved. Remember, “Not everyone who gambles has a problem with it. It is important to determine whether or not the other person has an addiction.” Natalia S. David, PsyD said. 

Therapy And Counseling For Compulsive Gambler

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Some of the best treatments of compulsive or pathological gambling involve staying close to the patients, offering medication, speaking carefully to the patient, helping them focus, helping them breathe easily and so on.

“Compulsive gambling is a serious addiction that can cause severe consequences.”  That is according to Natalia S. David, PsyD. The treatment of compulsive gambling is diverse and quite effective. Although it can be very challenging because just like in other forms of addiction it is often difficult for patients to admit they have a problem and subsequently take the necessary steps to ensure that they are no longer dependent on gambling.

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Acknowledgment and identification of a problem is usually the first step in solving any problem, this is particularly key in treating compulsive gambling everywhere in the world. “Admitting you have a problem is the first step in treating your addiction. However, due to the nature and the danger of this disease, simply just stopping on your own is highly unadvisable,” says Dr. Howard Samuels, PsyD. Some of the most effective treatments have been on those patients who came to the conclusion that they had a gambling problem

If your family or your employer pressured you into therapy, you may find yourself resisting treatment. But treating a gambling problem can help you regain a sense of control — and perhaps help heal damaged relationships or finances.

           Source: americanaddictioncenters.org

Although gambling addiction is a serious, potentially dangerous disorder, it can be treated with a combination of therapeutic modalities, recovery resources, and supportive psychosocial services. These therapies and services are available through professional treatment programs that specialize in addressing compulsive gambling, with or without a co-occurring substance use disorder. Treatment may take place at an inpatient facility, where 24-hour supervision and support are provided, or at an outpatient rehab program, which offers greater autonomy and flexibility to clients.

Some of the best therapy and counseling treatment of compulsive gambling include;

  • Individual therapy: This involves a very intimate one-on-one working relationship between the therapist and the patient. It is very effective as it encourages the patient to recognize triggers and learn the best possible way to handle the triggers. The therapist makes use of Motivational Interviewing (MI) that directly engages the patient and produces great results.
  • Group therapy: this is one of the most effective and cheap ways of getting help from compulsive gambling. It brings together a network of people who are going through similar challenges and who are willing to help themselves as well as others to get better. Most times in group therapy sessions, members share their experiences and how they are personally coping and their hopes and dreams. The Gamblers Anonymous and the 12-step programs form some of the best group therapy.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): “CBT is a relatively brief, skills-focused treatment that has been shown to be effective for a wide variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, anger, social skills deficits, and relational problems.” Shelby Harris, PsyD, CBSM said. This type of therapy is designed to completely address and change the thought process and consequently destructive behavior of compulsive gamblers. It is designed to change the negative thoughts and behaviors of compulsive gamblers that make them believe that they are closer to a big win that to their next loss. It ultimately replaces such negative and destructive thoughts with positive ones.
  • Family and or couples therapy: The sad truth is that addiction is never really a personal thing as the likelihood that it affects the family whether directly or indirectly is high. Most time the money meant for the family or the kids can be spent on gambling other times it can lead to the breakdown of a relationship and even the home. Involving your family and getting the support you need from them, Strengthens family bonds, reestablishes trust and is quite effective in not only getting rid of an addiction but also ensuring that you do not relapse.
  • In-patient care: A more intensive program may be required if compulsive gambling has resulted in financial, legal, medical and other challenges. The inpatient care typically involves close supervision; individual and group therapy as well as life coaching that is designed to get you back on track.

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Symptoms Or Tips For Identifying Gambling Addiction

 

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It is necessary to be able to prevent a problem before it becomes uncontrollable and to do this, careful and precise attention must be placed at noticing the signs attributed to the problem. Gambling addiction has its symptoms and these symptoms make it easy to unravel the involvement of someone; and also to check one’s self towards preventing a great fall.

There are various possible means to understanding or realizing people that are already addicted, apart from having a talk therapy; that will be intended at figuring out someone’s intention and involvement, other symptoms can be taken note of as well.

It is not enough to talk about the symptoms for identifying gambling addictions without taking a brief look at this addiction.

Gambling Addiction

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Gambling is the willingness to sacrifice something of value in other to acquire something of greater value compared to what was sacrificed. So, gambling addiction is the consistent urge for gambling irrespective of the adverse effects it will have on one’s life. It is that point when gambling becomes a habit and there’s really nothing that can stop a person from gambling even after losing.

“Even those who have never been to a casino and likely never will can still become addicted gamblers because of the proliferation of gambling websites.” –Dr. David Hodgson

It is also referred to as problem gambling; it is an addictive disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) and has also been tagged as an impulse control disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) based on the study on pathological gambling.

Gambling addiction can be caused by an excessive hunger for gambling and it is at that point when nothing else appears paramount except gambling. Though it is possible to have control over your gambling habit, this is rare and might even end up leading to an addiction.

Symptoms and Tips

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It is necessary to be able to help those that are addicted and also to keep one’s self in check, there are various things that can be taken into consideration to know when to quit or when to seek help. As it is hard to give up easily on addiction, it is better to be conscious of the symptoms or signs of addiction.

So, what signs must be seen to know that gambling addiction is occurring to someone?

  1. Financial instability: One of the most obvious signs is finance as the person will have to struggle to meet up with his/her daily target and the hunger for more will always be there. As Eric Dammann, PhD used to say, “We all have money issues and quirks of one kind or another. If we don’t know what those quirks are, they will emerge in a time of real stress or panic.” When a person that gambles begin to have issues with finance and then still continues to gamble in that instability; then it’s time to stop because the same feeling he/she gets with a lesser amount of money, will not be able to be met by the same amount; which leads to an increasing amount of money spent daily.
  2. Keeping Secrets: When the problem persists, the gambler begins to keep secrets of his/her movements and even of their spending. They are very much interested in placing bets and putting a large sum of money into gambling than any other thing, so the need for secrecy begins. When this is noticed, seek help.
  3. Spending time away: Addicted gamblers derive so much pleasure in giving a large chunk of their time to gambling, this allows them to spend time away from their family and even friends. They can decide to come home late from work or just head out after work and come back very late, the time they spend increases as the addiction grows. They also neglect to gather with people who are not gamblers because that’s where they feel they fit in.
  4. Desperation: When there is a desperate need for money and they are willing to do anything it’ll take to get more, just so they will have more money to gamble, and they can even consider theft or fraud, then that is another sign to identify gambling addiction. They can even spend time talking about gambling and express how it makes them feel.
  5. Source of happiness: “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.” Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC said. But there are those who tend to get enough satisfaction from gambling than any other thing. It becomes their number one priority and ultimately becomes their source of happiness. They derive pleasure in gambling any time and no love is shown by the family of friends will seem enough to match their burning desire for gambling.

When questions begin to bug our minds about our stand with gambling and we find ourselves testing positive to them instead of having negative responses, it’s a call to check ourselves. Questions like:

  • Do you spend so much on gambling than any other thing?
  • Do you find pleasure in meeting with friends or spending that time in a casino?
  • Do you constantly fall into debts and then continue to still borrow to quench your desire to gamble?
  • Do you neglect family time just to meet up with a gambling activity?
  • Do you continuously find yourself going back to gamble after you have decided to quit?

It means there’s a lot to be done and help is very much needed as quickly as possible.

Reasons Why I Gamble

I am a fan of gambling. I like anything that involves betting a considerable amount of cash onto something. This type of habit that I have supports my desire for a different level of thrill and excitement. I get to feel energized every time I win, and I also feel motivated whenever I lose. But that is just me. I don’t know how gambling affects other people because I understand that every person had different views and opinions on that particular matter.

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Source Of Entertainment

Perhaps you will agree with me that gambling seems entirely designed for entertainment. Those flashing lights with all the colorful slot machines, it fits perfectly with the idea of a party themed environment. It pretty much appears to be a place for fun and relaxation. But of course, kids are not allowed in there. Presumably, it is a haven only for adults that are young at hearts. So yeah, part of the reason why I gamble is to entertain myself. As Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC explains, “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.”

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Earn Cash Instantly

Admittedly, my primary reason for gambling is to earn a lot of cash instantly. Seriously, who wouldn’t want that these days? I know so many people who dream of winning a lot of money by betting everything, and I am one of them. You see, gambling, if you are lucky, is all about bringing you tons of cash without sweating so hard for it. Gambling, for me, is all about getting doubled or tripled the amount of money without hard work. That is something.

Challenge Luck

The truth is, a lot of gamblers are mentally oriented, but not all of them are emotionally prepared. Meaning, an avid gambler like me knows when things are turning my way. I understand that there are times where I see no luck at all. But I believe in this particular instinct that somehow tells me to try my luck over and over again. But despite that optimism, I get to feel anxious and scared inside. Like any other hard gamblers, I also think the fear of luck moving away from me from time to time. “As long as we feel like we’re doing average and have basic needs met, such as food and shelter, there is no correlation between money and happiness.” Brad Klontz, PsyD explains.

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The Truth About My Habit

“As long as you talk about it, a saver and a spender can figure out how to manage things so they’re both happy,” says Eric Dammann, PhD. Of course I know there are only two results that might happen – winning and losing. When you lose, you just got to try again. When you win, you merely celebrate. But with all the different views of people have, including what’s mine, one thing is sure. Gambling is not a habit. It is an addiction, and I am addicted to it.

Sadly, it seems too late for me to instantly distance myself from the detrimental habit I build up for so long. I was wrong to think that gambling is a form of entertainment. It is not even useful for interactive social growth. There are no long-term benefits to it, to be honest. Not only it does takes so much of my time, money, and energy, it does not also allow me to develop overall emotional and psychological strength. Now it becomes a question of “what I think is right” and “how I see things right.”

Roles Of Family And Friend As A Support System For Gambling Addicts

 

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Gambling doesn’t just affect the gambler. It can have serious consequences for the people around them too. Its far-reaching consequences involve the lives of spouses, children, friends, employers, and co-workers, but most especially is the immediate family.

Gambling addicts rarely see the problem with gambling; to them, it is just a game of luck. A person with a gambling problem uses defense mechanisms and manipulation to protect their habit and it becomes very hard to convince them of a need for change. Heather Berlin, a neuroscientist at Mt. Sinai, says that like drug addicts, problem gamblers are unable to stop gambling even when the behavior becomes destructive. “They’ll do it at the cost of losing their job, destroying their relationships, or losing their money,” she says. “Gambling addicts just can’t seem to stop themselves from engaging in this negative or detrimental behavior.” Here are some helpful tips for friends and family on how you can be a support to a loved one who is a gambling addict.

Understand the trigger

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“Because gambling is known to trigger these addiction pathways, it is often considered to be a behavioral addiction – or behavior that can become compulsive over time, causing a lot of harm to people’s lives,” says Hailey Shafir, LPCS, LCAS, CCS-I. Family and friends need to understand what triggered your loved one into gambling, could it have been reasons of desperation for money, the desire to experience the thrills and highs, the social status associated with being a successful gambler, or the entertaining atmosphere of the mainstream gambling scene or plain depression. In this way, you are able to relate and support them from that angle. Avoid trying to protect them by giving in to their whims and schemes. Don’t envision him or her as the enemy. Envision the addiction as the problem that must be overcome.

Understand the struggle

Overcoming a gambling addiction is a tough process, it’s a tough battle to beat down addiction and they need all the right support to stop gambling and act responsibly.  Gambling is also everywhere; readily available to suck them back into the old pattern. So help them resist the desire to gamble again by being supportive. Help your loved one understand that you see him or her as more than a person with a problem by telling them explicitly how much you care about them and their wellbeing. Offer to be someone the person can call or talk to when they find themselves in a stressful situation or on the verge of a relapse. Because “Suffering has complicated factors that interface including: physical, psychological, social, emotional and neurological.” says Karen Doll, Psy.D., L.P.

Show Respect

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Remember it takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to one’s inadequacies, especially if they have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way. Respect them as a person not for the wrong choice they made but for who they really are. More importantly, relate to them as an equal person and not as a disappointment. Remind them of their many positive attributes, good qualities, and past accomplishments. This will help build their self-esteem and confidence.  

Be kind

When a loved one has chosen to give up gambling and realizes he or she has a problem which is the first step towards overcoming the addiction and recovery. He or she may often feel alone, depressed, ashamed and have low self-esteem. They may feel out of control and embarrassed about their actions and the consequence it has brought upon them. This feeling can lead them into a state of relapse and sometimes contemplate suicide. This crucial period we need to support them in their struggle and that they are not alone, relate to them as an equal person.

As Jennifer L. Taitz, PsyD once stated, “I’m pretty blown away by the idea of Loving-Kindness Meditation. Meaning, instead of drowning in sadness, purposefully spending a few minutes wishing people well (from you to a mentor to a stranger to a person you know struggling) can actually lead to productive actions and increase your joy.” With that, you must be cautious with your interactions and dialogue, keep your temper in check, be patient with his or her treatment and recovery and make sure you don’t exclude them from the family. Offer to be someone the person can call or talk to when they find themselves in a stressful situation or on the verge of a relapse. Be kind

Breaking The Habit: Stop Gambling

Gambling is one of the detrimental types of addictions that an individual can have. Yes, it may not seem to be that intense compared to other mental health illnesses. But it sure creates massive destruction not only to the person experiencing it but to the people around him as well. It never supports growth and development. It never exists to create a better environment for someone who needs emotional and mental stability.

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The Sad Truth

Gambling is a big lie. “Gambling Disorder is characterized by a pattern of compulsive gambling that becomes problematic and leads to the experience of negative consequences in an individual’s life.” Hailey Shafir, LPCS, LCAS, CCS-I said. It was merely created to allow people to hold onto false hope. It makes everyone believe that it is a form of entertainment that focuses only on providing happy and encouraging emotions. But those ideologies are all lies. It will never support any emotional and psychological development at all angles because it feeds with anxiety and depression. It only caters to self-destruction.

Sadly, people do not see it. Or should I say, they do not tend to acknowledge its destructive components. Gambling may seem a perfect solution for an instant burst of thrill and excitement. But it will never create lasting benefits to every aspect of life. Not only gambling makes someone financially unstable, but it also adds to the pressure of always wanting to get more and even bigger expectations, which is by the way not healthy for both emotional and psychological states. That is due to the “Problem gamblers tend to minimize their problem or deny that their gambling has become uncontrolled.” That is according to Jeremy Frank PhD CADC, a Philadelphia Psychologist & Addiction Counselor.

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Honestly, the ironic part is that a lot of people are still into gambling. A lot of them are looking at the habit indifferently. Some say it is merely for entertainment. Others use it for adrenaline booster, while some are viewing it as a source for a chance of a lifetime. You see, gamblers are not thinking straight. And the reason why almost a considerable percentage of these people are addicted to gambling is because of their perception of what the habit is. Most gamblers often love to excuse themselves by telling people that gambling (for them) is advantageous because it makes them happy. However, contrary to that point of view, gambling – in connection with losing a lot of money – pushes someone to become unpredictably greedy, hopeless, anxious, and depressed.

But with everybody’s defense, I am not saying that an individual that gamble is already addicted to the habit. There are just those individuals who get considered because of the unsurprising negative life changes they experience after getting hooked with gambling. Seriously, what is it in gambling that makes a lot of people addicted?

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Why You Need To Stop

If you are still in denial of yourself that you cannot admit to being a gambling addict, you might want to reconsider. Look at yourself and picture out how massive the changes in your life have been. Calculate all the money you spent betting a lot without considering ten times fold chances of losing. Look at your surroundings and think about those people who used to stay by your side. If negative things that impact all of these factors don’t affect you, please seek professional help immediately. As psychiatrist Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones said, “If people were able to say ‘I am a problem gambler’ in the same way that they say ‘I am an alcoholic’ then it would protect them.”

Targeting The Psychological Mechanisms Of Gambling Addiction

Several years ago, people believed that true addictions could only be based on addictive substances such as drugs or alcohol. Activities such as gambling were not considered to be able to cause addiction, and people who were unable to control their gambling sprees were labeled as stupid and reckless.

However, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical  Manual of Mental Disorders, the gold standard for categorizing mental illnesses, finally classified pathological gambling as an addiction. People are starting to recognize the addictive nature of gambling, and this increased understanding will hopefully lead to more action to solve this issue.

“Not everyone who gambles has a problem with it. It is important to determine whether or not the other person has an addiction.” –Natalia S. David, PsyD.

Around two million individuals in America alone grapple with gambling addiction, and several million more face similar dilemmas around the globe. Many people believe that gambling is something that anyone can quit easily, but there is more to it than just willpower. The mechanisms by which the act of gambling becomes addictive are deeply rooted in psychology and cognitive science, and understanding these can help us design more effective therapies to cure people of this addiction.

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The Reward System

Becoming addicted to behaviors such as gambling shares similar mechanisms with addiction due to substances. A particular region in the brain contains neural circuits that activate when people engage in pleasure-seeking activities such as eating or sex. Thus, this part is called the reward system of the brain, and it connects to several other brain regions that influence memory, pleasure, and motivation. The reward system serves a beneficial role by rewarding behavior that helps in survival, such as eating, or that helps in perpetuating the species, such as sex. This effect increases the motivation to seek out these activities in the future.

“If people were able to say ‘I am a problem gambler’ in the same way that they say ‘I am an alcoholic’ then it would protect them.” -Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones

However, you can also abuse the reward system. The thrill of gambling also produces the same feel-good neurotransmitters that other pleasurable acts can produce. Gambling activates the reward center, marking the activity as something that should be sought after in the future. As the addiction grows, connections of the reward center with the prefrontal cortex weaken. The prefrontal cortex influences decision-making and impulse control, and the weaker connections result in a greater difficulty to stop the addiction from progressing.

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Mistaken Beliefs

Many addicted gamblers hold beliefs that make them more vulnerable to losing control. For example, the common gamblers’ fallacy is the mistaken belief that a massive win must eventually follow a series of losses. Some people, then, take this as a sign to keep placing bets, even if they have already accumulated large losses.

Some specific gambling mechanisms also take advantage of the psychology of gambling. Some devices have random periods where they give rewards more frequently and generously, encouraging gamblers to stick around in the hopes of placing a bet during these high-reward times. Other devices entice losing players to keep on playing by increasing reward pots after a series of losses. Almost all machines used for gambling are adorned with bright lights and warm colors, and most casinos use classy decor that denotes a high-brow culture. All of these can subtly associate gambling with eventual riches in the minds of the players.

“Although any kind of gambling can become addictive, video slot and poker machines are the most seductive because they offer the greatest escape.” – Psychologist Robert Hunter

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These mechanisms underscore the need for holistic treatments to stop gambling, such as therapies that include medication and counseling. Interventions on the part of casinos themselves, such as policies meant to discourage people from falling into addiction, are also necessary. Only a multisector approach can solve problems as complex as addiction.

Betting On The Other Side Of You: Bipolar Disorder And Gambling Addiction

Bipolar disorder also known as manic depression is a severe mental health issue demonstrated by mood swings and abrupt change in behavior. At times, people with this condition experience extreme sorrow or depression and at times happiness and power.

“Bipolar Disorder is a mental health issue where neurological differences can be observed between those who have and do not have this diagnosis.” Catherine “Katie” Ness, MA, LCPC said. Bipolar disorder can be hereditary. If one of the parents has a mood disorder, there is a high risk that the child will have the condition too. About 50% of people diagnosed with this condition have a family member with the same mental health issue or mood disorder such as depression.

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However, bipolar disorder is mainly biological. There is an area in the brain which functions differently due to malfunction in neurotransmitters such as the norepinephrine or the stress hormone. It makes us think faster; increases our heart rate which pumps more blood; increases glucose release; increases breathing rate providing more oxygen to the brain; and finally, restricts metabolic processes which then passes the energyto the brain and other muscles, making them function faster thus explaining the mania.

On the other hand, he could also experience the opposite and drown in severe depression. It could cause him to shut the world out and express resentment. He would have terrible mood swings, and it is likely that he will fall into addiction as well. It could be substance abuse, alcohol, or maybe even gambling. 

What Is It Like To Have A Bipolar Disorder And A Gambling Addiction?

“Compulsive gambling is a serious addiction that can cause severe consequences,”  says Natalia S. David, PsyD. When you are winning in a gamble, there is a feeling of power and superiority which is what’s addictive in the first place. It satisfies the mania – the aspect of bipolar disorder which describes the heightened energy level.

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When a person with bipolar disorder switches moods and becomes sad, he could lose the interest in gambling, but then there will also be a tendency that he will still turn to it to appease the overwhelming sadness.

Do People With Bipolar Disorder Favor A Personality Over Another?

No. People with bipolar disorder couldn’t choose what to feel. Their brains function unusually in a random place or time. There could still be triggers such as stress, environment, and social pressure, but most of the time, they are unable to control their emotions.

What Is The Connection Between Bipolar Disorder And Addiction?

Since bipolar disorder is a problem with mood and behavior, it could also influence the brain to be vulnerable with overwhelming emotions. We could easily be tempted and persuaded as we tend to act based on what our brain demands which most of the time is to contain and respond to our feelings, which then, again, can be due to brain malfunction. Yes, John Preston, PsyD.  seems right when he said, “Bipolar disorder is probably the main psychiatric disorder where medication is absolutely essential.”

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We couldn’t exactly tell how a person with bipolar disorder feels. He might prefer a feeling over another, but sadly, he doesn’t have the power to choose. He could always bet on being happy and active, but having a bipolar disorder means you have to deal with the other facet of it, too.

My Gambling Addiction Made Me A Criminal: The Sharon Hollamby Story

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The moment Sharon Hollamby robbed a convenience store with her son’s fishing knife, she knew that something was terribly wrong with her. For the 58-year old, the entire affair began with a simple gambling approach. As it turned out, the pokies game became her waterloo soon after.

“Compulsive gambling is a serious addiction that can cause severe consequences.” Natalia S. David, PsyD.  explains. Like most gambling addicts, Sharon never thought that a casual fun time will encourage her to pursue a troubling life. What she initially did was to look around, socialize and randomly use one of the machines at a recreation club. As it turns out, her somewhat gullible move would lead her to self-destruct.

Messed up Life

Around that time, Sharon had every reason to go out and keep herself preoccupied. Her nephew just died due to a drug overdose, while leukemia was taking a toll on her father. She needed a breather – a few hours away from tragic scenarios. When she won $400, that winning moment ignited her life to spiral downwards.

The pokie machine had cuffed Sharon almost instantly. She got carried away. In order to sustain her habit, it was at this stretch that she grabbed the storekeeper at knifepoint. Understandably, she was after the money. Perhaps “Although any kind of gambling can become addictive, video slot and poker machines are the most seductive because they offer the greatest escape.” Psychologist Robert Hunter said.

Since she had no prior juvenile or criminal record, she managed to get away from stiffer punishments. However, she felt totally ashamed deep inside. Even at this point, her gambling addiction consumed her.

Sharon’s robbery trial did not discourage her from playing some more. In fact, she was only going through the motions as her day in court came. The only thing on her mind was that her father was dying. Nothing seemed to deter her.

Awakening

Her time on pokies machine continued. Although she managed to get help, it took a couple of threatening situations that propelled her to face her addiction. First off, her two children stopped talking to her. Secondly, her loses had amounted to $200,000. In addition to support groups, the South Australian mother was also on medications while seeing a psychiatrist.

Sharon Hollambly had definitely come a long way. Although she had been sober lately, the tendency to go back to those pokies machines continued to haunt her. Her case had been a head-turner judging from the fact that the Dolphin Treasure gambling device became the focal point of concern.

Anti-Gambling Initiative

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Charles Livingstone, a public health lecturer at Monash University, pointed out that the machine contains features that were simply deceptive and misleading. Gamers were made to believe that their losses or near misses still accounted for as wins. Charges against promotion outfit Crown Resorts and Aristocrat Technologies are on. Should the company lose, notable repercussions in the gambling industry would be set in place.

Still, Sharon does not believe that Australia’s betting problems would come to an end. Her view had been reinforced by the fact that anti-gambling campaigns remain wanting in their methods. The capping bets were another thing that tend to motivate addicts since the losses they incurred had limits.

Although it had been eyed that betting enthusiasts were motivated to win more money, researchers believed that the addiction cycle continues due to the sense of gratification again and again. For Sharon, gambling was an outlet to blur her problems in life. Although betting organizations had been contributing heavily to communities, what these institutions give away have been returning in spurts by citizens who are more than willing to gamble.

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If you are like Sharon who has a gambling addiction or if your loved one is addicted to betting on games, then, turn to BetterHelp for online assistance. You can also search for “therapist near me”, if you need someone to speak with face to face. As Dr. Howard Samuels, PsyD. says,  “Admitting you have a problem is the first step in treating your addiction.”