It is impossible to ignore gambling in the modern world. Every person who has access to the Internet may have fun playing some games online. According to the statistics, most gamblers consider gambling as a good way to relax and forget their routine for a little while. To recharge their “batteries” and then continue their work. But for some people, gambling may become a real problem as it can develop an addiction to rewards and the gaming process. If the player feels uncomfortable while playing games and just cannot stop doing that, he needs to find a way to cure the addiction.
Things to know about gambling addiction
The mental health of modern people is very fragile. It can be harmed if a person becomes addicted to some kind of gambling activity. At the moment, game addiction is officially included in the international directory of diseases. According to the ICD-10 classification, this type of addiction has the form of regular gambling activity with a negative impact on a person and his close ones. The everyday life of a person can be affected due to non-stop gambling. It can have an adverse impact on everything related to the normal behavior of the gambler.
It is worth mentioning that gambling addiction can be presented in different forms and psychologists have perfectly described at least the most common ones:
- The desire to play the game, ignoring possible results. Such a behavior can be crucial for the player. It can lead to the destruction of his personality. One of the characteristics of the addiction is the incessant desire to start gambling. The person is not able to think about anything else, because he is always focused on games only.
- Mania. No matter how tired a person is, he will continue playing the game. The player loses any interest in social activities, he is determined to play games all day and all night long, skipping normal sleep and routine tasks. In the case of mania, people may start lying about what they were doing, because they played games only and nothing more.
- Impulsive thinking. The player can control himself only when he is playing the game. Such people are willing to play as much as possible, which leads to constant stress. They are interested in different in-game events and joyful elements of the gaming process, which can be described via the Skinner Box scheme. The player gets a reward by doing certain actions in the game. With each gaming session he remembers things he did before to get a reward and as a result – he does not have any other choice than play the game to get the joy and excitement.
All of those forms of gaming addiction are not constant. They may vary, depending on when, how, and what the player started to play. Depending on the personal values of certain players, the said forms of classification may act differently.
It is important to not only remember about signs of gambling addiction to not become a victim yourself but also to help relatives. It is possible to prevent gambling addiction if it was diagnosed at the early stages.
There are several signs of gambling addiction that every player should know about:
- Incessant thinking about how good it would be to play the game;
- A desire to spend more money on games for satisfaction;
- Constant lies about gambling hobby;
- Gambling becomes an instrument to alleviate stress;
- A desire to escape gambling with a ton of unsuccessful attempts.
It does not mean that if the player has one of the symptoms, he is addicted to gambling. But if a person discovers one of the symptoms, he needs to be more serious about his hobby to work out the right gambling management.
There is another crucial aspect of the gambling addiction. It is possible to divide symptoms into physical and emotional ones. Depending on what symptoms were discovered, the player should have a different treatment.
- Physical symptoms. Due to the emotional factors, the player may feel depressed or unable to sleep well. There might be weight loss, rapid pulse, constant fatigue, and more. It may have negative consequences for the overall health of a person.
- Emotional symptoms. The emotional status of the player may change due to games. It can influence your mood and many everyday activities. The gambler may escape his social life due to no interest in talking with his close friends.
If you have some of the above symptoms, it is important to stop playing for some time and contact an organization that can provide help. Stop spending time on the Internet and try to escape smartphones and computers at least for a short period. Professional psychologists will provide help if the player gives them a signal that he feels uncomfortable with his gambling hobby. The same relates to his close friends: if they act suspicious and you know that they are close to being addicted to games, try to chat with them.
What are the reasons for gambling addiction?
To understand the reasons behind gambling addiction, it is important to look at the statistics. It says that this disease affects two percent of all gamblers. No matter how old they are, what their profession or gender is – they are vulnerable to addiction. This is why modern developers are so serious about making everything possible to help such people in the fight against addiction. Casinos presented in an online format have a huge selection of games, lotteries, and sports betting officially licensed to be provided in certain regions, depending on the legal gambling age for the country. Any person can be affected by gambling addiction, so it is extremely important to learn as much information about such a disease as possible. It is the only way to stop the player from ruining his life.
No matter how old the player is, he is still vulnerable to being addicted to gambling if a person has a predisposition for addiction. Mental scientists dedicated years to investigating why some categories of people may become victims of casinos. They figure out there are a couple of reasons why gambling addiction exists and may impact people’s lives:
- Biological reasons. Based on the studies it was learned that biological factors can dramatically increase the chance of addiction development. By winning in a game, the player gets a ton of positive hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. They create an emotional chain in which a person needs to win once again to feel the same pleasant feeling. If the player has failed and his bet was wrong, there is still a strong emotional reaction – adrenaline goes through veins and the player feels all the risk and stress. It all leads to one thing, namely, the gambler cannot enjoy his everyday life as he wants to play games over and over again.
- Social reasons. Biological factors are not the only thing that may affect the way people treat games. It is external sources that can influence a person. Stressful work, problems with a lack of money, limited social activity, unsupportive friends or relatives. It all may lead to problems with gambling as a person may consider gambling as a way to escape reality.
- Psychological reasons. All people have a different approach to how they treat certain things. Mental health is very important for normal gaming habits. Some people just cannot stop themselves from spending too much time on gambling, as they feel emotionally invested in games. They feel like games are their shortcut to success, but the reality may be disappointing for them if games are their main priority in life.
But it is hard to deny that some other problems may become a reason for gambling addiction. Some people have problems with drugs and alcohol, which leads them to risky behaviour. Others want to find a way to earn money quickly and without hard work. It all ends up in an obsession with gambling. It is also worth mentioning that if a person played a lot of video games at the earliest stages of his life, he can end up struggling with a gambling addiction.
Negative effects of gambling
By dedicating too much attention and time to gambling, a person may face some negative consequences. It can affect all aspects of his everyday life. The player can feel like he is playing games, just because he cannot escape his desire. It is some kind of a guilty pleasure for addicted players. It is possible to name at least a couple of negative effects of gambling:
- Mental health. Gambling can ruin the mental health of the player. It may be stressful to lose in almost every gambling session, but there is a high chance that the player would not stop making bets. He will be desired to play one more game just to get his money back and at the end of the day, it will be even more stressful for him wanting to escape from problems by occurring new ones due to gambling.
- Suicidal thoughts. As a result of constant negative emotions after many attempts of stopping gambling activities, the player may end up with strong depression. It all can lead to very horrible results, like the risk of committing suicide. Especially, it is dangerous for the people who already have some other kinds of addictions, like drug addiction or alcoholism. Some players may have already trying to commit suicide. If the player has suicidal thoughts, he needs to ask close friends or relatives for help. There are a lot of specialized organizations that can provide a professional approach to addiction treatment.
- Finance. If the player will not control the way he makes bets, it will all lead to serious financial problems. The player needs to find a way of how to control his money. The easiest way is to decide on how much to spend before making bets in any game. Without doing financial calculations, the player will end up with huge loans, possible bankruptcy, or even worse.
- Relationships. By playing too many games, the player may feel uncomfortable talking with his friends, relatives, or even find it difficult to build any kind of relationship. An addicted person may have a detrimental effect on his family. All of us have heard stories about psychological pressure, domestic violence, and other problems associated with addicted people.
Is it possible to stop addiction?
Addiction may damage the lives of not gamblers only, but their relatives as well. That is why it is so important to figure how to address this problem at the early stages before it will be too late. According to the statistics available on the Internet, people who successfully managed their gambling obsession told that they did not control their behavior. It was clear for them that they ruin not just their own life, but also the life of their closest friends, families, and all other people close to them. But they just had no idea the extent of a problem they caused. They had a lot of questions about how it would be possible for them to stop the obsessive behaviour. A good thing to know is that if the player has a feeling that he needs to get rid of his addiction – it is a first step in the right direction. There are at least three methods that can help to solve the problem. However, please bear in mind that every person is unique and it is impossible to find only one specific way to get rid of the gambling addiction.
The first method “Accept the addiction and study how to overcome it”
The first thing to do is to accept the fact that you have an addiction that affects the way you behave. By denying the problem you will make the situation even worse. It is recommended to recognize the addiction and do everything possible to avoid gambling. Spend more time at work, with your friends and relatives, and fill your life with people you can communicate with and who can support you psychologically. Be aware of possible gambling consequences. Write down all the negative things that gambling has brought to your life. Maybe some people got offended by how you treated them. Do not forget that your gambling addiction is always a problem not only for you but also for all people that surround you. Do your best and tell the truth, and never lie about your obsession with games. Try to work on your social life, communicate with as many people, as you can. Slowly, your addiction may finally go away and you would not need to play games anymore.
The second method “Avoid all the possible triggers”
One of the most important aspects of escaping the addiction to gambling is avoiding the triggers. You need to recognize and take control of them. They are like “mind traps”. Some things can affect your feelings, thoughts, and emotions that can lead to gambling. It is important to figure out what can serve as a stimulus to play games. It is important to write all of these triggers on paper to not forget about them. There are a lot of scenarios in which the player can be triggered to make a bet. Stop being a victim of your impulsive thoughts and start working on managing them. Think about gambling like it is the most horrible thing in the whole world. Specifically, for the addicted person, gambling can become the worst aspect of the everyday activity. Do not use alcohol or drugs to escape gambling, as they are also kinds of addictions that may affect your life in the most terrible way. By controlling what you think and do, it will be easier to get away from gambling. Try to spend more time away from your computer or smartphone. Discover a new hobby, get a pet, or find something that would inspire you to become a better person.
The third method “Do not be afraid to ask for professional help”
The problem of most people who were affected by addiction is that they do not take it seriously enough and they would never go to professionals who would provide qualified help. It is always important to chat with therapists to find an appropriate treatment for this psychological disease.
Gambling addiction may seem like something that cannot be got rid of. But there are a lot of treatments that can give at least a chance to escape it. These methods do not provide a hundred percent success. The player should figure out why he wants to play games and then work on a way to get rid of the underlying reasons. There are several possible ways to fight gambling addiction:
- Psychotherapy. Many professionals say that this treatment is the most effective. This type of therapy will help the gambler to understand what precisely causes his addiction and find a proper way to stabilize his psychological health.
- Medications. It is hard to say if there are any kinds of drugs that would guarantee the gambling addiction treatment, but it is possible to find some medicines, such as antidepressants. They can stabilize emotions and a person may finally stop thinking about playing games all the time. It is strongly recommended to consult a doctor to take only the drugs that would not cause any health problems. Self-medication may turn out very dangerous and it is just irresponsible in terms of your health.
- Group support. As it is important to socialize, group support is very appreciable. It may be the best method of treatment, so it is recommended to look forward to it if the player feels like he needs to get help. Just surround yourself with people, who will understand what you are dealing with and will support you on your journey to mental stability. The “12 steps” program is very effective for most people, and it is worth trying.
It is hard to say which method will be the most effective for a specific person. There are many reasons why the player becomes addicted, so it is worth checking all of these methods to find out which will be the best in fighting obsessive gambling behavior.
Best support resources
If you or close people are struggling with gambling addiction, it is important to know about the best support resources aimed at helping people in need. On the relevant websites, a person can find detailed information on how to contact a therapist and get support from professionals. There are at least several special organizations helping people to cope with their gambling obsession:
- Gamblers Anonymous. It was established in 1957. In recent years there were more than 2,000 groups of this organization all over the United States. But Gamblers Anonymous is not limited to the USA only, and they have formed groups all over the world. With help from this organization, it will be easier for the addicts to deal with their problems.
- BeGambleAware. A special organization formed in the United Kingdom aimed at gamblers who suffered from the products of the gambling industry. Thanks to this organization, it must be much easier for the player to find an appropriate treatment for his disease. Professionals of BeGambleAware can help not only to identify the disorder but also to assist in fighting the addiction at the early stages.
- The National Council on Problem Gambling. This organization is seeking to protect both players and their relatives. They have an official website where a person can find more information on how to get appropriate treatment in the US. If a gambling addict needs help, he can call professionals using a hotline phone number.
- GamCare. One of the most recognizable organizations in the UK. All gamblers can use the contact information on the official website to get a better understanding of how to deal with addiction. There is a crisis hotline for the player, so he can ask for help by dialing the contact phone number.
- Gambling Therapy. This is one of the best-known services that have free advice for people who are struggling with gambling addiction. They provide not only practical advice, but also emotional support from the best professionals. Experts are always ready to answer all requests from gamblers, who feel like they need help. There is a whole Gambling Therapy forum with topics of how to face the problem.
But these organizations are only the tip of the iceberg, as there are many anonymous clubs, communities, forums, websites in your country. It is important to recognize the problem before finding a way to treat it.
What to expect from gambling addiction in the future?
Gambling becomes more accessible with each passing year. Most people are okay with playing games, as they are not affected by the addiction. They can control their emotions. But some are not able to deal with how games are presented nowadays. Many online casinos have disclaimers stating that gambling activity may cause damage to mental health, leading to psychological issues. The number of affected people is increasing every year, so it is important to be serious about this problem.
It is hard to say how many people have already suffered from gambling and how many will become the victims of the gambling addiction. Some addicted gamblers just refuse to recognize that they are psychologically unstable in terms of playing gambling games and it causes a lot of issues in their private and professional life.
Do not forget to manage your time and money when visiting any kind of online casino. Controlling your gambling behaviour will be the best way to not get addicted. Gambling addiction does not discriminate either age or gender, and it can affect anyone and any time. Be careful and manage your time properly to not spend more than you can afford for gambling. In some online casinos, it is possible to limit deposit payments, the number of spins, and other elements of gambling activity. Check these limitations to form an appropriate way to play games without being affected by the addiction.
Gambling addiction can be prevented, as it is easier than to cure it afterward. Control what and how you are playing. Your personal life is much more important than a couple of spins in the newly released game. Look at casinos as a place to have rest after a busy day at work and not the only dose of joy.