Gambling – everything you need to know about it before you start treatment
Gambling is so dangerous because it always seems like an innocent pastime at first. A visit to the casino is a great way to eliminate boredom in the evening, playing cards for money allows you to experience the thrill, and the next scratch card costs only PLN 2 or 3. However, you can get addicted to the risks associated with the game. And the consequences of such addiction can be tragic – they can cause a spiral of debts, problems with creditors, loss of job, family breakdown, and even suicide.
We have prepared detailed information on pathological gambling especially for people who are concerned that money games are slowly taking control of their entire lives.
What is gambling?
The term gamble is derived from the Arabic word “az-zahr” meaning a game of dice. In English, gambling means risk, and in French, chance means a stroke of luck.
This term is commonly used to describe all games for money or other valuables, the result of which does not depend on the player's skills or knowledge, but is the result of chance (fate).
The game itself is fun when the player sets himself an amount to lose and sticks to it closely. When the losing sums increase, the player spends more and more time on this entertainment at the expense of duties and other activities (hobbies, family life, social relationships) and is not able to stop playing despite the awareness that such a situation is not the norm, gambling becomes pathological.
Gambling is based on many different rules. Among them can be mentioned:
- lotteries (e.g. lottery scratch cards)
- number games (lotto)
- roulette (cylinder games)
- gaming machines (electronically controlled machines)
- card games (including poker, Black Jack, baccarat)
- game of dice
- sports betting (betting on the results of football matches, ski jumping and other sports events)
- betting (based on guessing events – not only sports events, but also the results of presidential elections, Nobel or Oscar winners)
- Horse Racing
- dog racing
- online casinos
- audiotele contests, promotional lotteries
- playing on the stock market (e.g. making profits on the Forex market)
Mutual and sports betting is often referred to as bookmaking.
How does gambling addiction develop?
The development of gambling addiction is influenced by a number of internal and external factors. The most frequently mentioned here:
- disturbances in self-esteem
- problems in interpersonal relations
- severe states of excitement that appear at irregular intervals
People with low self-esteem rooted in childhood may have a tendency to megalomania (narcissistic disorder) in adulthood. A big win may mean for such a person the feeling that he is special and has a chance to “make a fortune” in gambling, which quickly drives the patient into addiction.
The motivation to start the game is the desire for entertainment, success, and overcoming boredom. Addiction quickly causes chronic fatigue, because the player begins to treat risk as a way to deal with all problems, preferring the game to other spheres of life. Hence, there is a simple way to plunge into the world of fantasies – delusions about a big win that will change everything. At this stage, a gambling addict begins to neglect other spheres of life, he sees meaning only in the game, which leads to a deterioration of the family, material, professional and social situation.
There are disturbances in logical thinking among gamblers. They are unable to judge the situation, they feel that the outcome of the game depends entirely on them and not by chance. They treat any winnings as the result of their own knowledge and experience, not a stroke of luck.
Why do we play money games?
For a healthy person, playing for money is simple fun. He sets the time and amount that he can spend on the game and sticks to his decisions strictly. The occasional game is not dangerous.
The motivation for cash games is, among others:
- the desire to feel the thrill
- willingness to win and improve your financial situation
- willingness to get money to make dreams come true
People addicted to gambling don't just gamble to prevent boredom, fill their time in an interesting way by betting at the casino or to win. Pathological gambling is associated with addiction to the strong compulsion of strong impressions provided by the game.
When does gambling become a problem?
For many people, buying a scratch card or lottery ticket, participating in a lottery or visiting a casino, and playing roulette does not pose any risk. They can assess the situation and stop the game at any time. They are well aware that they have no influence on the outcome of the game.
Gambling becomes a problem when a player stops treating money betting as entertainment, feels an irresistible urge to keep playing, increases the stakes, which results in higher and higher losses. In this way, he can quickly fall into a vicious circle, lose the ability to realistically assess the situation, become addicted to the emotions that accompany the game. Hence the easy way to take out loans and payday loans, borrow money from family and friends. The addict's entire life becomes focused around the game. She ignores comments from those around him that his interest in gambling has started to be a disease.
Pathological gambling according to DSM-IV
Pathological gambling as a disorder was classified in 1980 (American DSM-III classification). Currently, the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV (1994) are used. Addiction may be evidenced by:
- focus on gambling (looking for new ways to raise cash for the game, developing a game strategy, etc.)
- betting higher and higher and spending more and more time playing
- Repeating the same attempts to stop gambling over and over again, even though each time they do not produce the desired results
- annoyance when trying to end your adventure with gambling
- treating the game as a way to deal with life's problems
- game in order to “get back”
- lying to loved ones so that they do not discover the amount of the stakes and the frequency of the game
- obtaining money for the game by illegal means (theft, fraud, embezzlement)
- putting gambling over responsibilities (professional, family)
- lending money to play
Five or more behaviors from the list above can help diagnose pathological gambling addiction.
What makes you become addicted?
The background for falling into a gambling addiction can be personality disorders whose roots go back to childhood. Most often, people with narcissistic personality become addicted to games, have excessive self-esteem, are unable to realistically assess reality and fall into addiction because they live under the illusion that they deserve a huge win.
The stimulus for pathological gambling can be a difficult life event (divorce, separation from someone close to you, loss of job) and starting a game for money to improve your well-being. People who have won also fall into addiction loops (they begin to perceive the game as a simple way of earning money, an opportunity to multiply money).
A gambler may feel that the game is disastrous for him, but the urge to feel the thrill is stronger than common sense, he cannot resist buying another ticket, placing a match or visiting a casino. Such a situation is caused by neurological changes – the work of the reward system in the brain is disturbed, it stops responding adequately to stimuli. For the thrill to occur, the player must constantly stimulate the brain with higher stakes, which leads to a vicious circle.
There are 4 stages of gambling:
- phase of victories – at this stage the player gambles occasionally, dreams of a big win, with time begins to feel agitated, he spends more and more time playing and raises stakes, a small win makes him euphoric
- loss phase – the player bets higher and higher stakes, which causes large losses, focuses on getting money for the game, neglects his relatives and professional duties, counting on a huge win
- desperation phase – the gambler gets into financial trouble (he can get a job, stop paying his creditors, separate himself from the family), he becomes mentally exhausted, he feels guilty over huge debts, but he is unable to stop playing
- the phase of losing hope – the player may lose his family (divorce, break off contacts with adult children), fall into a spiral of debt with no way out, fall into suicidal thoughts
Gambling addiction often develops very slowly. The sooner a problematic person seeks help, the less drastic the consequences of compulsive money gambling will be. Phase four (loss of hope) is the last call to seek help from a specialist. Therapy is effective only when the addicted person admits to himself that he is sick.
In the initial phase, treatment may take the form of visits to a psychologist and outpatient psychotherapy. Once addiction has developed, therapy in a closed addiction clinic is essential. Specialists are looking for a substrate that pushes the addict into the game and helps him out of the crisis. The first step in treatment is to motivate change. The patient should learn about the neurological and psychological background of his problem. Then, together with a specialist, he has to work on changing his thinking. It is very important to learn social relationships and how to deal with stress without resorting to the thrill of gambling.
An important element of the therapy is help in arranging a debt repayment plan.
Techniques used to treat gambling
In the treatment of pathological gambling, the same methods are used as in the treatment of other addictions (alcoholism, drug addiction, drug addiction).
At the Be Free center, we use:
- individual and group therapy
- Minnesota model
- therapeutic community program (based, among others, on the Twelve Step Program and Gamblers Anonymous meetings)
- relaxation techniques
- self-observation (records kept by addicts allowing them to name their own feelings)
Why is Be Free the right choice for gambling addiction treatment?
The private addiction treatment center Be Free is an intimate place located in a quiet tourist area, allowing for peaceful therapy and guaranteeing complete anonymity. We provide our patients with an individual diagnosis, development of a problem map and effective therapy. We use various methods in gambling therapy, which allows us to start the fight against addiction in a comprehensive way.
We guarantee psychological help and support for the addicted person's family. Experienced, certified therapists with extensive knowledge of the basis and methods of treating addiction work with patients. In the case of gambling, we not only motivate to change and conduct therapy, but also help the patient to create a realistic debt repayment plan.
Do you or someone close to you have a gambling problem? Do not wait for addiction to become the cause of huge debts, breakdown of relationships with loved ones, loss of job and disappearance of social relations – contact us and get professional help in this unequal fight.
- you have lost your will to do your daily activities
- you feel depressed or irritable
- you are not sleeping as before (e.g., you have trouble falling asleep, wake up often or sleep too much)
- Your appetite has changed. You have lost or gained weight
- you feel helpless, hopeless or despairing
- you have difficulty thinking and remembering and your thinking is slowed down
- you feel guilty constantly. You can't stop thinking about the problems
- you have lost interest in your sexual needs
- you feel physically exhausted, you are slow and sluggish or jittery and excited
- you feel angry
- you think about killing yourself
… This is most likely the result of compulsive gambling and you may be addicted to gambling.