Gambling compared to all behavioural addictions is the one that can cause the most financial damage in the short term. This addiction brings down even the richest person into complete misery.
Gambling addiction in our days is not limited to sports betting, roulette in casinos or slot machines, but the explosion of online betting has made it very accessible to anyone with a phone and applications.
It is only a few clicks away that compulsive gamblers can place bets that could lead to ruin. Unlike substance abuse, where the addict’s consumption is limited by physiology and their body’s ability to cope with a given amount of drinks or drugs, the only limiting factor is a gambler’s potential spending. No matter how rich they may be to begin with, a person can lose everything they own.
Although definitions differ from authority to authority, gambling addiction is generally considered to be an impulse control disorder manifesting itself in a compulsion to gamble (betting on horses, or playing slot machines ….) regardless of the negative consequences of doing so despite sometimes wanting to stop.
To be diagnosed as having a “gambling disorder”, a patient must exhibit certain symptoms over a period of time. Other diagnoses may have conditions that need to be met. Because our understanding of addictive behaviour continues to evolve and because it can manifest itself in very different ways from person to person, many doctors may consider a patient to have a gambling addiction, even if they do not meet such strict criteria. If someone gambles, regardless of the harm to themselves or others, and finds it difficult or impossible to stop, they may need treatment for their condition.
Types of gambling addiction problems
In principle, any type of gambling can lead to addiction, as it is the pattern of behaviour around anticipating, then placing a bet, and subsequently anticipating an outcome, that becomes habitual and then addictive; it is possible a gambler may take risks with his or her health and safety such as playing Russian roulette.
Most gambling involves risking money and, naturally, it is this kind of gambling that the gambling industry has revolved around.
The largest and most damaging types of gambling include sports betting (including horse racing) and event betting, casino and card games (with versions also available online), lotteries and scratch cards.
The stages of a gambling addiction:
While each gambling addiction is distinct, specialists usually classify the development of a gambling problem according to the following phases:
The glory phase:
This stage starts with winning a big amount, which leads to excitement and a positive view of gambling. Compulsive gamblers believe that they have a special talent for gambling and that winning will continue. They begin to spend more time and money on gambling.
The loss phase:
Gamblers start to focus more and more on gambling. They start to gamble alone, borrow money, not work, lie to family and friends and not pay back their debts. They also start to try to make up for their losses.
The desperation phase
Compulsive gamblers lose all control over their gambling. The gambler experiences a sense of regret and shame after playing, but they cannot quit. This may lead them to cheat or steal to finance their addiction. The effects of the gambling dependency overtake them: they may end up unemployed, or facing divorce or imprisonment.
Treatment of gambling addiction :
Our rehabilitation clinic works with treatment methods that can help people involved in all kinds of addiction. Resources include medical and psychological assistance, support groups and occupational activity programmes. Furthermore, withdrawal from negative stimuli and environments, as well as living with people who are struggling to get their lives back on track, are elements that encourage the improvement of the condition.
Last but not least, the role of the family is essential for the recovery of their loved ones. Besides searching for means of treatment for gambling addicts, or other addictions, family members should also act as a source of support and positive reinforcement. In this sense, understanding, tolerance and encouragement are pillars that cannot be missing.