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Monday, August 29, 2016

Is Gambling a Medical Addiction?

Gambling can be a lot of fun, when enjoying in moderation, of course, pretty much like every other source of pleasure. People have always been aware of the dangers of gambling too much or too often, but it seems that nowadays, the awareness of compulsive gambling is higher than ever. Casino operators cooperate with other independent bodies, trusts, government and non-governmental organizations in order to tackle problem gambling and especially compulsive gambling. Check out this responsible gambling guide if you want to know how to recognize and how to avoid becoming a problem gambler. We all think that we can recognize when someone has a gambling problem, but it is not as easy as it may seem. Gamblers are often not aware themselves and don’t realize who serious things are.

Cause of Gambling Addiction

There is a part of the brain that is believed to play a role in gambling addiction and it is called the insula. Whenever a person has a hyperactive insula they are prone to compulsive gambling. The activity of the insula can give a person an unrealistic view on what is going on. Those people tend to see regularities in arbitrary sequences of number and they are convinced that they can predict outcomes which they can’t possibly do. A gambling addiction makes the addicted person react to gambling just like an alcoholic reacts to a drink. Just like with alcoholism, there are people who have a natural tendency to become gamblers. The more they gamble the more likely it is for them to become addicted. However, if they learn how to control themselves, they may overcome the addition. So, in short, it is a medical addiction.


It Is a Serious Problem

Moderate gambling, wagering and all other forms of risking a small amount of money for an opportunity to earn more, is accepted. It is fun, it is a social activity and there is nothing wrong with it. But addictive, compulsive gambling hurts not only the person’s financial well-being, but also their personal relationships and their general well-being. Addicted gamblers tend to be depressed and gambling often causes them to lose their job and/or partner. The story of Justyn Rees Larcombe who lost three quarters of a million, shows just how serious gambling problems can be.


It Can Be Cured

Fortunately, like all other addictions gambling can also be treated and cured. Sure, there are many people who are addicted to gambling, but there are even more who are able to gamble in moderation, have fun and still not suffer financial or other losses. There are several approaches that can help cure compulsive gambling. Organizations like Gamblers Anonymous, GambleAware, GamCare and few other have a lot of programs that help people with a gambling addiction. 

Symptoms 

The first thing that you need to do if you suspect that you, or a person who is close to you has a gambling problem is to check if the person in questions is experiencing some of the symptoms. The list of symptoms includes, but is not limited to:

• Postponing other commitments in order to gamble.
• Being obsessed with gambling and using every opportunity to engage in some form of gambling.
• Constantly stating “I can give up whenever I want, I just don’t feel like it right now”, and “I am going to get very lucky soon, I can feel it”.
• Lying about gambling and their gambling habits.
• Feeling guilty about gambling, but not being able to stop it.
• Spending money that was planned for something else on gambling.

Gamblers often lose their possessions, including their houses and cars, because they sell them in order to have more gambling money available. Remember that the frequency is not the only indicative of a gambling habit. Some people may gamble more frequently without being addicted. The strongest indication is not being able to stop once you start gambling.

Treatment Methods 

There’s more than one method to treat problem gambling and they could be combined. The first important step, and probably the most difficult one for every person with an addiction is to stop gambling altogether, at least for a certain period of time. That is why most operators nowadays offer self-exclusions that can last from several months up to few years.

• People whose problems are very serious may enter a treatment programme at a rehabilitation centre. That measure should be a last resort only and most people would be able to cure their gambling addiction without staying a facility.

• Psychological and regular medical therapy in combination with other hobbies and activities that will take their mind off gambling is a viable option. Patients will still be able to function normally and do their everyday chores.

• Gamblers Anonymous has its own 12-step program which might be helpful as well. People meet other people who have the same problem and together they fight to overcome the addiction.

• In some cases the gambling addiction is caused by another mental illness or condition and in such cases it is essential for the person to take the prescribed medication regularly, as that will not only help them with their condition, but it may also lead to overcoming the gambling addiction.

• Gambling condition like other conditions is a state of the mind and the reasons why people resort to gambling are mostly psychological. It takes a lot of willpower and determination to be able to defeat the problem and the help from friends and family is essential. Addicts should always be honest with their close ones.

This is a guest blog post.

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