Its not really about the machine or the money, it is about the individual and what gambling offers to them
Successful therapy for each behavior can also follow similar lines and includes counselling, and support and relapse prevention groups , which we run at Enough is Enough Anti Violence, Sydney (ring 02 9542 4029 for details).
Following is an article about gambling addiction, which is second only to alcohol addiction in the havoc it wreaks on people’s lives.
Gambling Addiction Australiaby Robert Mittiga, Addiction /Codependency Therapist
Gambling addiction is the new disease sweeping through our society today, causing more destruction, human brokenness, family disintegrations, suicides, financial ruin, crime and spiritual bankruptcy than any other addictions in our society today, next to alcohol addiction. Gambling addiction is affecting every sector of our population, and discriminates against no one.
What is gambling addiction?Clinically, gambling addiction is known as Pathological Gambling Disorder. It has specific diagnostic criteria, and it has a biological effect similar to that seen in cocaine addiction. This is now a scientifically proven fact in the most recent neurological research into Pathological Gambling and addiction.
So why has gambling addiction become a major public health problem in our society? Well this is simple, massive accessibility. A more in depth look reveals other serious reasons behind this question.
Firstly, only 10% of the problem is directly related to the gambling itself, or money, it is about the individual and what gambling offers to them. Ninety percent of gambling addiction today comes from Electronic Gaming Machines or what is commonly referred to as “pokies”. These machines have the addictive properties similar to heroin or “crack cocaine”. For the individual predisposed to addiction, these machines provide high risk of swift and severe addiction.
Many individuals I have seen become severely addicted to this form of gambling within 6 months of first playing the machines. They display the severity of addiction similar to heroin and cocaine addicts, along with similar withdrawal symptoms, once they choose to stop. Also the suicide rate is 5 times greater than any other addiction.
So we are talking about a very serious public health problem. Unfortunately most of the general society in Australia still sees gambling addiction as some form of moral weakness or some flaw in some human beings. This is sadly is a big mistake.
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How it begins?Gambling addiction, like drug and alcohol addiction begins with intensely negative childhood experiences that predispose the individual to high levels of negative affect. This, in turn, leads to various escape routes, some of which include addictive behaviours. In many recent studies, most individuals affected by Pathological Gambling endorsed dissociative items more frequently. These items referred to feeling like a different person while gambling, feeling in a trance after a period of gambling, feeling outside oneself while gambling, and experiencing memory blackouts after a period of gambling.
Some of the underlying issues linked to gambling addiction, are similar to those found with drug and alcohol addiction. They include sexual and physical child abuse, emotional and spiritual abuse, domestic violence issues, childhood neglect and general family of origin disfunctionallity. The result of these issues in childhood creates a retardation of emotional development being carried into adulthood.
Gambling, as with any other addictive behaviour, provides the escape or coping mechanisms for the individual. This however only works for a short period of time usually, and eventually creates more pain, thus leaving the individual with more and more need to escape or medicate with the gambling behaviour, until finally they cross the biological threshold of full blown addiction. At this point serious and irreversible alteration of brain chemistry occurs.
The individual generally will continue on this process until an intervention of some sort occurs. Usually this will only happen when the individual is in great despair, with usually financial and emotional crisis. Unfortunately some people see suicide as the only way out, and there is plenty of evidence to back that up, with many clients reporting attempts of suicide prior to seeking treatment.
Some of the indicators of Pathological Gambling:1. Preoccupation with gambling (e.g., preoccupation with reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money to gamble)
2. Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired level of excitement
3. Has repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling
4. It restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
5. Gambles as a way of escaping from problems, painful emotions, or to relieve a dsyphoric mood (feelings of helplessness, anxiety, guilt or depression)
6. After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (chasing ones loses)
7. Lies to family members, therapist or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
8. May commit illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling
9. Jeopardized or lost significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling
10. Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation because of gambling
If you answer Yes to at least 5 or more criteria, then it is probable you have Pathological Gambling Disorder. We would strongly encourage you to seek professional help immediately. Pathological Gambling is treatable and recovery is possible. However there must be a strong desire for change before recovery can be effective.