When people hear the word addiction, they usually connect it with drugs or alcohol, but there are more addictions which can develop. One of them is a gambling addiction. A gambling addict normally has the same symptoms as addicts with chemical addictions. Typical symptoms like loss of control, development of a psychic need, anxiety, obsessive need for gambling in case of abstinence, personality changes, loss of job, family problems, financial problems, etc. are also present when it comes to gambling addicts.
The need for the so-called gambling euphoria, i.e. a loss of control is in the basis of the gambling problems. Everything begins with non-intentional visits to gambling parlors with friends. At first, there is no expectation for winning, it is mainly an activity to kill time.
What happens next is what triggers development of the addiction. A person has a lucky strike and although he or she knows that chance to win something are small, the unexpected results keep happening in his or her favor. Some patients said that at that moment you are not only winning money, you also gain a sense of your strength, power and success.
Reactions from the people around are contributing to these sensations. The sensations of triumph, glory and winning are the basis for the development of the psychic addiction. Thoughts to try again one more time are starting to form in one’s mind and then gambling becomes a regular activity.
At this point, a gambler has more or less equal winnings and losses which constantly are interchanging. Gamblers begin to develop their own strategies for gambling, the temptation increases and by that point they spend most of their time in a gambling parlor. Time passes and the need to gamble increases, everyday is present, along with a loss of sense of time.
This phase also includes a loss of control of finances and then a gambler usually goes from playing on slot machines to playing roulette. Roulette has potential for large winnings in short time. This is when the stakes rise, but so do the losses. When this happens, a desire to restore the losses at any cost is dominant and debts appear and begin to accumulate.
All of this does not pass unnoticed by gambler’s wife and/or parents. At the beginning, he or she denies everything, but accumulated debts lead to the feeling of hopelessness and a cry for help. Debts are repaid and a gambler promises to stop gambling. Afterward, the abstinence crisis strikes as life is not so interesting without gambling and a strong sense of lack of something pleasant and joyful appears.
Gamblers constantly think about gambling and some of them even dream of gambling during the crisis. They are agitated, their mood is frequently changing and they begin to blame their loved ones for their problems. When it becomes unbearable, a return to gambling is imminent. Everything is repeated – long absence from home, lies and new debts are made. In this phase a change in personality begin to appear. The passion for gambling is more important than everything else – family, friends, career, etc.
The last phase is the phase of despair. By this moment, the addiction is completely developed. Regret and depression after losing are unbearable and the only possible way out seems to be to restore everything and prove their loved ones wrong. Constant stress is present, a gambler is drinking a lot of alcohol, using sedatives and even drugs. Suicidal thoughts begin to appear and most of the patients who seek help in addiction treatment centers are at this stage.
Addiction recovery programs for gambling begin when a gambler decides to fight the addiction and signs up for treatment in a professional treatment facility. During this fight, he or she needs tremendous support from friends and family in order to overcome gambling problems.
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