Gambling has always cast a spell on many people around the world. Some people are more affected by this fascination, others less. Unfortunately, since gambling has been around there are also some people who cannot resist the special appeal of risky games and play beyond a reasonable amount without controlling their gambling behavior.
Emergence of drug addiction
Even in healthy people, gambling activates the reward center in the brain. If you win, neural messenger substances called endorphins are released and make the player feel good. The same messenger substances are released when taking mood-enhancing drugs such as cocaine.
The fact that not all games are won, but phases without victories must be overcome, again and again, the addictive behavior is even intensified: since the player never knows precisely when he will receive a victory, he is always motivated even after the other loss, to make another bet, maybe to succeed next time.
Symptoms of gambling addiction
- Frequent play
- Neglecting social contacts that promote gambling
- intensive intellectual preoccupation with the game (tactics, planning of “playing time”, etc.)
- Inability to stop playing
- Try to make up for the losses by continuing to play.
- Conceal or minimize his playing behavior
- financial difficulties
- legal or illegal attempts to raise funds
- Personality change (restlessness, irritability, social withdrawal)
- Development of associated mental illnesses (depression, thoughts or suicide attempts, other addictions (alcohol, drugs, etc.)
The symptoms mentioned in the list indicate a gambling addiction. However, even in the case of a severe illness, not all of the criteria need to be present.
Treatment – Support group recommended
If a person has reached the point of wanting professional help, they have the option of being treated on an outpatient basis or in hospital. The forms of therapy do not differ significantly, but inpatient treatment is recommended for patients who need more intensive help. The latter generally lasts between five and nine weeks and is linked to a stay in a drug addiction clinic or similar establishment; the outpatient form usually lasts six to twelve months.
In the course of treatment, the patient’s specific gambling behavior and long-term motivation are clarified. In its later course, the therapy is devoted to the context of drug addiction – for example, family difficulties, professional problems, depression – and tries to bring them under control. In addition, the addict learns coping strategies that should help him gain more control. Finally, the return or learning of the typical management of financial resources is also discussed.
In addition to individual discussions, group meetings are also mandatory during therapy. In an exchange with other patients, those involved analyze the behavioral patterns on which their game is based and develop goal-oriented changes. After treatment, patients should continue to work on their substance abuse problem in a support group.
This is how the therapy works
In gambling addiction therapy, those involved have to relearn how to manage money. Since the relationship to money has often changed due to high stakes, those involved often need to know again the value of smaller sums. Money management is often trained in inpatient and outpatient therapy with a relatively tight budget for daily expenses.
To minimize the risk of relapse, it is often necessary to turn your back on the old environment. For example, walking past the gambling hall or contacting former casino “colleagues” often re-triggers addictive behavior. In many cases, a hospitalization phase is advised at the start of treatment.
Gambling is used to induce happiness in drug addicts. Therefore, it is essential to achieve pacification in other ways and to learn behaviors that also release positive messenger substances in the brain. Sports, for example, are a great way to experience feelings of happiness and achievement outside of play.
An addiction is never considered to be completely cured, and there is always a particular risk of relapse, even in gambling addicts. The aim of therapy is therefore also to recognize this danger and to develop emergency plans for it. not to fall back into addiction.
Patients who have been affected by gambling addiction should stay away from gambling even after successful therapy. Unfortunately, like a dry alcoholic, the occasional “consumption” of the “drug” without falling back into addiction is only possible in a tiny minority.
Advice centers – On-site help
For those who are unsure of their gambling behavior and potential addiction, there are plenty of places you can direct your questions. One of these addresses is that of Anonymous Gamblers, an interest group committed to the fight against gambling addiction. They advise, organize themselves in support groups and provide interested parties with informative documentation on the game. subject.
Additionally, Gamstop is an independent self-exclusion tool that helps people with gambling addiction regulate the urges to get banned. After registering on Gamstop, we would no longer have access to online casinos.
After confirming the account, the player can choose to be banned from online casinos for six months, a year, or even five years. But Gamstop is not a foolproof tool because there are manly online casinos. sites not on Gamstop where players can play. But it does have its drawbacks, which makes this option somewhat unappealing.
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