Understanding and dealing with a gambling addiction
World famous ‘pay day’ had finally arrived. Brady and Tash decided to dress up and spoil themselves with a drink or two at an up market bar in Monte casino. “Hey, since we’re here, we might as well put a hundred or two on the tables! Come on, we won’t even be long!” Brady insists “Live a little jeez!”
What is gambling?
Gambling is risking something in hopes that you would get something bigger in return. Gambling can be very luring, especially the thought of winning more than you have risked. You can gamble with pretty much anything; money, material possessions. Hell you can even gamble away possessions you don’t even own as yet. For many, gambling is considered to be a fun way to pass time, unfortunately, like drugs or alcohol; not everyone can gamble successfully. For those really unlucky ones, they may end up gambling their soul away.
“Dude, you’ve already made a grand, let’s leave!” Tash nags.
Brady ignores her. He’s already made a grand and he’s on roll…. There’s no stopping him now!
He gets up and gets her a double Johnny Walker Blue on the rocks, thinking this should shut her up. She never had Johnny Walker Blue!
“OMG!! Okay, we can stay, but just for thirty minutes more”
Gambling addiction attacks a person’s integrity and the gambler can resort to dishonesty, lying and manipulation.
Compulsive gamblers can be very manipulative, not only to themselves, but to those around around them as well.
As with all addictions, the addict’s mind convinces them that they need either their substance or addictive behavior for them to function normally, as a result, they do everything in their power to protect their addiction. Much like how the mind convinces everyone else that they need food and water to survive, the same applies with the mind of an addict.
I have expanded on the signs of a someone with an addictive personality and why it is that they do what they do in this article: Signs of an addict
Compulsive gamblers possess the power of persuasion.
Unexplainable loans. One month there’s plenty of money with extra to splurge. The next month, there’s barely enough money to pay the rent, let alone debt.
Lying, cheating, stealing and emotional blackmail becomes the norm.
As most non-gamblers are well aware of how dangerous gambling can be, they often get slack from their closer family and friends. Their actions often covered with long stories that are either sad or completely ficticious.
Something that is also interesting to note is that before the gambler manipulates, lies or steals from those close to and around him or or her, the gambler manipulates themselves first.
‘OMG after the hectic month I’ve had at work, I deserve to spend some money on myself.’
They may try and convince themselves that they don’t have a problem or that they just doing it for fun and that they can stop whenever they want. It’s their money, it’s not like they’re hurting anyone right? This is the last hundred and I’m going home. After this I’m never gambling again. If I stop now, I have to admit that I am a complete loser.
This highlights that while all of this sounds terrible and it really is, I think it’s important to realize and Before they lie, cheat and steal from you, they do it to themselves . I want to reiterate that, the addict is not doing this to be intentionally malicious, but rather that they are not effectively dealing with a powerful mental disorder that requires for them to lie, cheat and steal to satisfy their craving.
He gets up, not a single chip left, but Tash doesn’t have to know that, as far as she knows he’s making a killing, just not stopping…”I need the bathroom, I’ll be back just now.”
“Just hurry the fuck up, I’m becoming annoyed now” Tash moans.
Determined; Brady marches over the the ATM, checking over his back once more to make sure she doesn’t see him. There’s no way he’s leaving this place broke tonight! …..
Now that he has the Cash, he still needs the bathroom.
Running to the bathroom, he readies his cards. After having lost a few hundred already, that line of cocaine would do him well.
Signs of a gambler
A gambling addiction is no different to a cocaine addiction. The signs are similar to that of a cocaine addict.
- The gambler becomes dependant on their harmful behavior and soon starts believing that their body and mind is dependant on the addictive behaviour.
- The gambler experiences great feelings of remorse or guilt after gambling.
- Despite their increased rates of loss, they continue to gamble in hopes that they would recoup all their lost money.
- The gambler experiences signs of depression.
- Loss of sleep
- Loss of control
- When trying to abstain, the gambler becomes restless and irritable.
Compulsive gambling itself is a behavioural addiction. Compulsive gamblers that have not yet seeked help can worsen already existing addictions. These addictions may be used to help “escape” the here and now and this can become extremely dangerous. Alcohol, drugs and other behavioral addictions such as sex Addiction is often used when the gambler experiences intense or heightened emotions. These emotions becomes a bit much for the gambler and the gambler then resorts, in addition to, their other safety nets. For example when a gambler has lost a major bet, the intensity can become so overwhelming that they need a drink to calm down.
He made back all his money and an additional 3 grand. Brady couldn’t be bothered by entertaining Tash’s threats anymore, she has no option but to join in on the excitement now, but yet again, insists that they leave.
He’s made so much money, why doesn’t he just leave already! This obsessive behavior baffles her.
The unfortunate truth about Compulsive gamblers is that once they have gone to far down and are at the point of protecting their addiction; their security, they can no longer be trusted.
The Compulsive gambler is in complete denial about their addiction and refuse to believe that they were outsmarted by their gambling, that they were defeated, that they can stop anytime they want to.
Very often those that are close to the gambler know that he or she has a problem, but as much as the gambler is in denial, often those close to him are in denial about the gambler’s problem as well.
As highlighted previously, gamblers are not necessarily bad people and those close to the gambler often want to trust them because they know the person without the slots or poker table. They desperately WANT to trust people that can’t be trusted. They would know and believe that the gambler has an issue much sooner than the gambler, him or herself would know, but they struggle to believe that the person they know could have a problem. The difficulty with trusting those that can’t be trusted is that you may actually be doing the person more harm by enabling them.
“Dude, I’ve got a long day, I’m out. Will you be able to get home safely?”
” Yeah, don’t stress, I’m going to leave soon as well” he responds, having lost 400 of the 3500 he just made. Still up though. “Okay Brady, 20 more minutes and we’re cashing up and going home, “he thinks to himself.
Winners know when to stop, addicted gamblers don’t
The Compulsive gambler fully believes that he or she can stop whenever they see fit. As mentioned previously, the gambling manipulates him or herself before they manipulate others.
Before we go on, let’s get one thing straight; while the gambler may not be understood by most non-gamblers, the average gambler is much smarter than the average person and they often have I.Qs of over 120. Their intelligence acts to their own detriment though. Their first few big wins can actually encourage the thought that they may be smarter than the other gamblers or that they may have found a way to make gambling work for them.
Effects of gambling
Compulsive gamblers become so pre-occupied with gambling that they think about gambling even when their not gambling. Just have a look at any of the App stores, the virtual slot games have amongst the highest downloads. Even though these games aren’t necessarily real, they provide that Casino gambling feel that so many people are hooked on.
Since a lot of gamblers are so pre occupied with thoughts of gambling, many other areas in their life start falling short. It is common for the addicted gambler to completely neglect themselves and not bath for days on end.
Gamblers can take out loans to support their habits, borrow money from close friends and family, not having enough money to pay the rent etc
The problem is that most gamblers have experienced that “big win” and convince themselves that if they can win again, replacing all that lost money will be easy. Very few are successful though and those that are, end up gambling their winnings away. Their jobs are impacted, often skipping days to gamble. Some gamblers may resort to theft or fraudulent activities to try and support their habit.
Friends and family closest to the gambler are often greatly affected by the gambler’s actions. Due to constant arguments, marriages fall apart. The gambler starts missing important milestone events or family gatherings. Children are more susceptible to substance abuse or bad grades because the parent is never around, abusive or provide a negative home environment.
Psychological and physical effects
As mentioned, many gamblers combine other addictions to deal with the shame and guilt of their addiction, which can have severe physical consequences. The gambler can suffer from fatigue, high blood pressure and numerous other physical illnesses. On top of that the suicide rates of gamblers are higher than those addicted to drugs are narcotics.
Compulsive gambling can also lead to cases of severe depression, cross addiction, anxiety, low self esteem and many other mental illnesses if the addiction is not dealt with.
Gambling is incredibly dangerous, but few gamblers are willing to admit that they have a problem and only start giving in to the idea once the effects become so obvious and impossible to hide.
If the gambler is willing to be honest with him or herself from an early stage, then the addiction can be treated, with hopefully as little consequences as possible.
Its gone. It’s all gone! Damnit!! Why didn’t he just leave with Tash he thinks to himself. Had he left then, he would have walked away with so much extra cash. Annoyed with himself, he walks back to the ATM, withdrawing double the amount withdrew earlier. He doesn’t have time to play small anymore. Time is no longer on his side.
Gambling to cover the pain
The gambler gets to the point of desperation. This can happen when they are either on a winning or a Losing streak.
They start Doubling down on bets. They Place bets even when he or she may have that gut feel that they won’t win. This is when it becomes incredibly dangerous.
How to treat an active gambling addiction
As with all addictions, the key to recovery is abstinence.
Many can consider going to a rehabilitation centre, provided they receive psychological treatment well after they have left the centre.
The addict can only do this once they have admitted that they have a problem and start working on the shame and guilt often built up as a result of the addiction. Continued denial will only be to the gambler’s detriment and all treatment measures will fail.
Not all people have the luxury of affording treatment centres or costly therapy sessions:
Gamblers Anonymous is extremely effective in this regard. As they understand the importance of working with like minded people and work on the underlying issues behind the addiction, such as resentments, fears as well as making amends to those the gambler has harmed. For more information check out their site http://www.gamblersanonymous.org for more information on the available help and support groups closest to you.
I would personally recommend that you become actively involved in gamblers Anonymous and seek professional help as well, in the form of therapy/counciling, even if you have gone to a rehabilitation centre.
The addict in distress can turn to spirituality. Addiction is seen as a spiritual disease and is often linked to spiritual emptiness. Check out my post on spiritual emptiness on this link: Spiritual empiness
Many have successfully managed to overcome their gambling addiction through spiritual means and seek to god for help with their addiction. This can be incredibly effective, provided that the person also deals with their underlining psychological issues that contributed to their addiction.
Finally, those that are affected by the gambler’s actions also need all the help they can get. Download this incredible guide with all the information you need in order to understand the gambler as well as really useful links for you to get help as well – Guide to understanding gambling and where to get help
Still in a state of trance, he steps out of Monte casino, the bright light of the sun blinding him.
He started with 200, had he left at 1am, he would have made a profit of 3500 bucks, right now though, he maxed out his credit card with barely enough of his salary remaining to pay this month’s rent and on he’s already on his way to the Cash Converters to pawn his TV and hopefully make some of the money back. The little money he would receive from his TV would surely be enough to make back all his lost money, pay off his card debt and get his TV back.
Do you have a gambling problem? Do you know anyone that has a gambling problem? Or do you have any advice for those suffering with a gambling addiction? I love to hear your views in the comments below!