Modern technology advancements and the accessibility of gambling to the general public have changed living situations and given rise to new psychological addictions. Some people consider playing the lottery or using slot machines to reduce stress a fun activity.
Gambling addiction has a variety of images. These include card games (such as poker, blackjack, and others), dominoes, roulette, and slot machines. The vast majority of individuals occasionally visit casinos, play slots, bet on races, go to online establishments such as ElRoyale casino, or buy lottery tickets as a sort of enjoyment. Many American experts view gambling in this light as a severe social issue that threatens a segment of society. The case is made worse because playing games can occasionally result in relaxation, the release of emotional tension, diversion from unpleasant circumstances, and enjoyment of a pleasurable activity. This mechanism predicts that retraction happens gradually and dependency grows.
What Is Gambling Addiction?
Ludomania, or gambling addiction, is a person’s dependence on the desire to play gambling for money, whether it is slot machines, poker, roulette, and other types of gambling.
Gambling addiction is a mental illness comparable to alcoholism and drug addiction. As with other addictions, there is a disturbance in the brain’s reward system. It is a reason to make a diagnosis if a person has tried to reduce or stop gambling without success. Not being able to play can cause anxiety and irritation.
Other symptoms of gambling addiction may include:
- Playing for larger and larger amounts.
- Wanting to win back after a loss.
- Constantly thinking about gambling or where to get money to play.
In addition, many people play to suppress negative feelings such as anxiety or depression.
If you suspect that you or someone you know start developing ludomania, they might show some of the following criteria:
- desire to gamble at ever higher stakes;
- restlessness and irritability when trying to limit or stop gambling;
- repeated unsuccessful attempts to control gambling;
- intense mental preoccupation with gambling;
- frequent gambling during stressful, emotional states;
- repeated gambling the next day to make up for losses;
- lying to others to hide the extent of gambling;
- jeopardize or lose meaningful relationships, jobs, educational or career opportunities through gambling;
- rely on financial support from other people to overcome the financial difficulties associated with gambling.
Gambling addiction is diagnosed if at least four criteria have been present for twelve months. Moreover, the motives of such players are very similar, and the main driving motive is the desire to receive a monetary reward.
The American researcher R. L. Caster identified three stages in the development of gambling addiction:
- Winning stage – a person does not yet understand the possible consequences of their hobby, episodes of the game become more frequent, there are often wins associated with their own skills, and there are self-confidence and fantasies about the game.
- Stage of losses – there are debts that a person is not always able to pay; losses become more frequent, the financial situation worsens; constant thoughts about the game, tense relationships with the family, a change in priorities towards the game; attempts to stop playing, returning to the game, lying, secrecy, social problems.
- The disappointment stage is the destruction of life and problems in all its areas, the constant involvement in the game, the increase in stakes in the hope of winning back and solving problems; despair, loss of control, severing ties with loved ones; withdrawal, suicidal thoughts or attempts, problems with the law, alcohol or other substance abuse.
Two more stages are also considered:
- Preparatory – precedes the stage of winnings, against the background of specific qualities and psychological problems, increased susceptibility to gambling develops, the desire to thus increase self-esteem, a craving for a particular type of game is formed, and if this stage is not stopped in time, there is a high risk of developing gambling addiction;
- The stage of hopelessness – a person no longer even hopes to win and understands that he is dependent, but still continues to play and hopes to experience the same emotions.
Factors Affecting the Development of Gambling Addiction
1. Partial “reinforcement”
Behavior is reinforced through rewards. Either a full or partial implementation is possible. When reinforcement is only partial rather than continuous, illogical player conduct lasts longer.
It is well known that a player does not anticipate winning on every wager; as a result, when he suffers a loss or even a string of losses, he does not view them as a whole. Players are encouraged to continue playing because they occasionally expect “reinforcements.”
2. Availability heuristic
Cases of jackpot winners are regularly reported, which helps them stay firmly in the minds of their intended audience. Because they still remember those unique success stories, gamers could therefore overestimate their chances of achieving a similar win. Their mistaken thinking makes them believe they have a winning chance even when the odds are not in their favor.
3. Player delusion
People mistakenly believe that previous events influence occurrences in random order. Players frequently make this mental error, which helps to explain how this phenomenon got its name. People with gambler’s delusions may invest in gambling again even after suffering significant losses because they are confident that they will “just about” strike it lucky.
4. Fear of loss
In general, people are more sensitive to losses than to victories. In other words, the delight a player has after winning $100 will probably be considerably less significant than the sorrow they experience after losing $100. As a result, a player may continue to overinvest time and money after a losing streak, not because the anticipated gain appears particularly alluring but because the agony of prior losses causes considerable suffering. Even though players know they cannot recover all of their lost funds, they frequently nonetheless undertake vain attempts to retrieve it at least partially.
5. Illusion of control
Even though winning at gambling is mostly a matter of chance, many gamblers mistakenly believe they have some control over the outcome. Therefore, they may blow on the dice before throwing them, or perform some other ritual before the start of the game, believing that such actions will increase their chances of winning. Since people tend to invest in activities they can influence, the illusion of control encourages players to keep making efforts.
6. Good mood leads to increased thirst to play
Recent research has revealed a connection between factors that elevate mood (sunny weather, a local sports team’s success) and increased gambling addiction. The justification is that having an optimistic outlook makes one more willing to take chances.
7. Changing expectations from winning
Increasing the degree of commitment contributes to increased hope. For example, in one study, horse racing bettors were asked to rate their favorite horses’ odds before and after placing their bets. After the bets were placed, the bettors tended to believe that their horse had a better chance of winning than before the bets were placed.
8. The effect of herd behavior
People become hysterical about buying tickets when lottery prizes hit record highs and receive a lot of media coverage because they don’t want to miss out on the action. Even individuals who have never played the lottery will join the crowd at such times and purchase at least a few tickets.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If the patient satisfies the disease’s diagnostic criteria, a physician or psychologist may determine that the patient has an addiction. You can get an evaluation by contacting a hospital or psychiatric outpatient clinic if you think you or a family member may have a gambling issue. You will be directed to an addiction specialist if necessary.
Gambling addiction, like any other, is a disease and needs treatment, a serious attitude, and the right approach. Therefore, therapy should be complete, including psychological assistance, searching for and working with the causes of gambling addiction, if necessary, medication support to restore sleep, treat depression, and normalize the emotional state. Work is also effective in self-help groups, where various aspects of the current situation are discussed and considered. In the treatment process, not only are psycho-emotional problems solved, social ties and family relations restored, but a strategy for getting rid of debts is developed, and new plans for life are built. In this case, mandatory consultation and supervision by a psychotherapist, narcologist, or addiction specialist are necessary.
There are several treatment options for gambling addiction:
- outpatient therapy;
- inpatient therapy;
- learning strategies to overcome gambling addiction.
In outpatient therapy, an initial consultation is carried out. It becomes clear how the course of the disease proceeds, what level of suffering, and what psychosocial consequences the gambling addiction has caused.
Then, within three months, the stage of motivation passes. During this time, the patient is cared for by two psychotherapists, and group sessions are held weekly.
The longest step, rehabilitation, starts after the motivation stage. Psychotherapists have been creating and integrating different strategies that help patients deal with the effects of gambling addiction into their daily lives over the past 12 months.
In more severe cases, an inpatient stay is added in addition to outpatient therapy. What is the emphasis there?
- The current problems and gaming behavior of a person are analyzed.
- The goals of therapy are determined and effective methods are developed.
- Assistance in the development of self-control, as well as in resolving family crises, relieving symptoms of depression or professional problems.
- An important role is given to teaching a person to distance himself from possible temptations, which refers to strategies for overcoming gambling addiction.
- At this stage, a person not only receives a developed program of changes in their daily life but also necessarily takes part in group meetings of people with the same problems.
All these actions aim to develop the right strategy for solving current problems and overcoming possible relapses.
Support in the Recovery Process from Gambling Addiction
Going through treatment and recovery from gambling addiction is not everything; it is necessary to maintain an independent lifestyle. To do this, avoid places associated with the game and memories of it, surround yourself with people who can help in difficult times and promote a healthy lifestyle, visit a psychologist and self-help groups, find hobbies, at least for the first time, and transfer control over finances to a trusted person.
Tips for Relatives
Psychotherapists with experience treating gambling addiction in adults suggest attempting to rule off the prospect of betting with money. What you need is:
- Deny access to gaming websites. These days, internet service providers have tools to block these resources automatically.
- Avoid entering gambling establishments like bookies, mobile sweepstakes, lotto kiosks, and others. Don’t waste your time or energy on such things. Instead of mourning the next significant loss, meeting someone after work and accompanying them home is preferable.
- Limit the dependent person’s capacity to govern the family budget and their own spendings. Inform loved ones and close friends not to lend money.
- Don’t forget to avoid borrowing money for your gaming demands. When losses from gambling start to occur, try to identify the revenue source and stop it immediately.
You must occupy the time you have freed up after quitting a bad habit with something worthwhile. Depending on the player’s interests, various ways exist to replace gambling addiction. For example, extreme sports or travel can both provide an equivalent amount of adrenaline.
Hunting and fishing are essential sources of enjoyment for men. The performing arts, music, and creative arts can all motivate a creative individual. The most important thing in this situation is to avoid switching to an alcohol or drug addiction.
To get rid of gambling addiction, you will have to start an uncompromising war with your habits, which have accumulated for a long time. Who will emerge victorious from this struggle depends only on your fortitude. By regaining control over your own actions, you will gain precious freedom.
Phoneia.com (November 1, 2022). What Is Gaming Addiction and What to do With It?. Recovered from https://phoneia.com/en/what-is-gaming-addiction-and-what-to-do-with-it/