For many people, gambling is an interesting form of entertainment and a fun way to enjoy some extra money. However, as it turns out, many people starting their adventure with gambling, whether it is stationary or online, fear that a harmless hobby will turn into a serious addiction.
Naturally, gambling is addictive in a different to drugs way – you are unlikely to experience physical pain in response to withdrawal. However, the problems of gambling addiction cannot be ignored. Even if we ignore the financial aspect at this point. Gambling addiction has destroyed many families and broken many professional careers.
Therefore, before you decide to enter a casino or visit its website, it is worth reading the responsible player’s guide. So that the casino remains entertainment for you, not the first step to serious problems.
We start talking about gambling addiction when the player no longer has control over his contact with the casino. When he starts to neglect his job, family, responsibilities, and other hobbies. It cannot be clearly stated in this situation whether playing poker once a week is too much or not. What matters is that the chosen gambling game slowly begins to become the only goal and pleasure in life. It is no longer something to be done and it is starting to be something that must be done, no matter what the consequences of not giving up the game.
Who Can Become A Problem Gambler?
Gambling addiction specialists distinguish three types of addicted players. It should be remembered that addiction is a disease and a person suffering from it cannot quit the casino at any time. Even if he clearly insists that he or she can at any time. This is a fairly common motive among addicts – they still think they can stop. However, they always find a reason not to.
In the early stages of addiction, players slowly begin to lose control of their game. Even if they fail again in a row, they can’t stop. They begin to believe that they are close to a big win – after all, after several defeats in a row, fate must finally turn around. Often, in this phase, they begin to lie to their loved ones about how they are playing or how much they have lost. They have to do this because they start playing more and more. The biggest problem here is the realisation that the game is getting out of hand. But here is the biggest problem – the player at this stage still thinks he has control over everything and can stop at any moment.
When a player completely loses control, they are compulsive players. This is the moment when all the brakes are released. It is the game itself that counts, whether you win or lose. Even if it ends up falling into debt. This is the moment when it is very difficult to get over the addiction without professional support. Of course, it is not impossible, but it is much easier to recover from this state when a psychologist or a support group helps us.
In between these states, we still have players who go into a game frenzy from time to time. Compulsive behaviour does not happen regularly, but only at specific times. Generally, the person may not appear addicted and may not even gamble at all. Such players can often be found among people recovering from addiction. They control their addiction on a daily basis, but in crisis moments they can “forget in the game” even for a few days. In such a situation, it is particularly important to seek help in support groups – people who are in them often coped with the desire to play and are able to suggest what to do in such a situation.
How To Recognise Gambling Addiction?
No single addicted gambler will have it written on his forehead. Affected people, as is the case with other psychological addictions, often try to hide their problems from the world, family and partners. They are afraid of a certain stigma – addictions are treated by many people as the result of weakness or even stupidity. This makes it difficult both to diagnose and to recover from the disease later.
Psychologists advise that if you are concerned that someone close to you has become a victim of addiction, check whether he has suddenly changed his/her behaviour. For example, if he or she hasn’t given up his hobby, they don’t miss family events, which they have been eagerly attending so far. Aren’t they more withdrawn and introverted? At a more advanced stage of the disease, neglect of duties, work or even childcare occurs. A sick person can sometimes disappear for a day or several days, and then come back without a word.
Financial problems are another group of symptoms. It starts with gambling your savings – money from deposits or savings accounts. Some people start with extra work to have money to gamble. Later, when this money runs out, loans begin – from friends, family, and finally from loan companies. If you play – check that you are not playing for borrowed money. An important turning point is the moment you realise that you are regularly exceeding your gambling budget. Then it is worth recalculating whether the casino expenses have become a serious part of the home budget.
What Causes Gambling Addiction?
There is no one specific answer to this question. Addiction is the sum of at least several factors that may result in an illness. This means that not everyone will become addicted, but on the other hand, you can never be sure that you are safe and that you can play without fear.
Imagine that every time you play, your brain produces a large dose of serotonin – the popular happiness hormone. As a result, each game is fun, you don’t have to go to sleep, and even (if you wanted to check it) you have greater pain tolerance.
Of course, the production of serotonin with different actions is not surprising. Many people enjoy and enjoy playing computer games or watching movies – this is normal brain activity. The problem begins when the dose of serotonin produced by the brain makes it easier to decide on the next coin tossed into the slot machine. Especially since the level of happiness hormones is similar to that produced when taking the next dose of the drug.
Genetically conditioned gamblers
Moreover, some scientists argue that the tendency to gamble and other addictions is to some extent genetically determined. Although we have not identified a specific gene combination responsible for addiction, researchers believe that if a parent or grandfather was addicted to gambling, it is much more likely that their son or grandson will develop the disease. Therefore, it is worth being cautious when we have seen any addiction in our family.
Other researchers point to psychological factors as the cause of gambling addiction, related to the way a person thinks. It turns out that if someone is convinced that he has an influence on the results of random events – for example, by inventing a special combination of numbers that must eventually fall.
This triggers the “one more game” syndrome in them, which makes them ignore how fast their time flies and their money melts away. Especially that with such people, each loss is simply “the next step that brings you closer to the big win”. You probably know or have heard of someone who has been buying lottery tickets for several years to win the amount of dreams. Or they are counting on the probability of thousands of losses in a row to be zero – after all, they have to win, no matter what the costs in the meantime.
How Can I Deal With Gambling Addiction?
Generally speaking, it’s best to seek the help of a specialist – a psychiatrist or psychologist. Especially if you have a few symptoms of a gambling problem or you hear from your loved ones that you may have such a problem. Yes, you probably think you can stop at any time, but a visit to the doctor will definitely not hurt you and may help.
The beginning of the fight against the problem is to realise that it is yours. The sooner it happens, the better – the less harm the addiction will do in your life. It is not worth trying to get out of addiction on your own – it is not only much more difficult but even impossible for many people. If possible – find a support group – among people recovering from addiction, family or relatives.
It is worth paying attention to when gambling becomes more necessary – is it associated with a stressful situation? If so, it may be better to meditate or talk to someone about the problem rather than another game at the casino. Maybe this is a good time to start this hobby that you’ve been tackling for several months, but poker was more important.
It is also worth taking advantage of solutions that allow you to cut off access to online gambling. Some online casinos allow you to set a lock on your account at your express request. It lasts from 12 hours to several months, and access to the game is not unlocked, even if the user changes his mind and contacted user support.
The same applies to the maximum account balance above which the casino will not accept additional funds. This means that even if we lose the assumed limit, we will not be able to pay extra money, which will protect us from losses. In such a situation, it is also impossible to remove this limit, even at the request of the person who set it. It is difficult to say at the moment how many people regularly use such opportunities.
How To Provide Support For Problem Gamblers?
If the addicted person is your partner, family member, or close friend, you may have mixed feelings. On the one hand, you want to help them, you want their happiness. On the other hand, you might get annoyed if your efforts don’t seem to be having any effect. In addition, finances can be a problem – an unpaid loan or a few things that were only in the pawnshop make you worry about your future and financial security.
Therefore, it is worth starting the conversation about gambling not when you are stressed or irritable. You will need to explain to your partner that you are not fighting him and that his addiction affects you and your family’s life. Be prepared that the recovery process will be difficult and will not end in a few days.
If you have children – it is also worth telling them about the problem. It is not only about possible loans, but also about the fact that they were not afraid of the unknown. The message will have to be adapted to the age of the child – you want them to understand that there is a problem in the family, but not to worry about it as if they were responsible for it.
There is one thing you need to realise – you are not able to force someone to quit. The decision to start treatment and seek help must always come from the sick person. Otherwise, there is no chance she could get out of this.
Of course, if he wants to, you can be supportive, you can guide him in the right direction, but it is impossible to get him or her out of gambling. Moreover, if the treatment is not successful – it is not your fault either. There are four points to keep in mind when helping someone addicted to gambling.
- Take care of your safety. This is the most important principle of giving aid. First of all, take care of your and your children’s needs. You can’t help anyone without it. Don’t blame yourself if it does not help the addict.
- Seek support. Helping other people can be exhausting. Therefore, it is worth looking for a support group in order not to burn out. Perhaps there is a support group for relatives of addicts in your area – contact with them will help you understand that you are not the only one struggling with this problem.
- Set financial boundaries. Remember that gambling is the most important expenditure for an addicted person. It will be on your head to determine such ways of managing the budget that it will suffice for basic needs. If you need a separate account – create one. If your spouse is addicted – check how to protect yourself against having to pay off his debt.
- Be prepared for requests for money. This is the most difficult advice – an addicted person can try to get money from you in many ways. You need to be prepared for manipulation, requests or even threats or blackmail. It is not only about helping the addicted person but also about taking care of your own financial security.
We also recommend getting familiar with dedicated support organisations that work anonymously and provide help for Irish problem gamblers, as well as their relatives: