Why Gambling is an addiction

November 13, 2017
Johann Kassim

Other addictions are easier to detect than gambling because there are many fallacies and myths, which keep problem gamblers at ease with their addiction. Below are some of the myths that keep problem gamblers in active addiction and help to enable their denial:

It’s easy to detect if you’re a problem gambler

Unlike other addictions, gambling has no physical side effects hence loved ones and even oneself would be fooled to think that there is no problem with compulsive gambling. Therefore, it isn’t as easy to detect if you’re a problem gambler due to it being a “hidden compulsion”.

If one can afford it, it isn’t a problem

Placing a bet and constantly winning is the gambler’s dream. Yet, if money isn’t the problem, relationships are still problematic. The problem gambler is not intimate with his/her spouse/family/friends. Many of them have absolutely no idea how the rest of their loved  ones are doing for the only care is placing another bet. Compulsive gambling is also problematic in many other areas such as having poor health (as a result of poor self care); the possibility of engaging in other addictions like drugs and alcohol to fuel the gambling  behavior; and the consequences of those cross-addictions. So lack of money is not the only problem that affect problem gamblers.

Addiction only affects irresponsible people

Gambling addiction affects everyone who participates in games of chance, no matter who they are. A vast majority of professionals gamble and do not see it as irresponsible behavior because they can hide behind the façade of their own professionalism, yet deep inside the process is the same as the man on the street who simply wastes his money on a bet.

Compulsive Gambling is a daily affair

Problem gamblers may be fooled to think that unless one gambles daily, one is not a problem gambler. However, most gambling addicts will gamble on certain chosen occasions and the pattern may actually seem irregular. The real sign of active addiction is an irresistible urge to gamble in spite of the consequences, no matter what the pattern of gambling turns out to be (daily, weekly, once a month, even once a year). 

Compulsive Gamblers will play any type of game

Problem/Compulsive gamblers are a specialized lot. Usually the games that excite them are the ones that they will place bets on. It’s not about betting willy-nilly; but playing with wagers in contests with the highest stakes, because that’s where the thrill lies.

If a compulsive gambler is in debt, the best way for his/her recovery is a bail-out

A compulsive gambler will be ever so grateful for any bail-outs. There will be vows never to gamble again. However, just as a “safe” opportunity arises, the compulsive gambler will return to his/her gambling pursuits forgetting all the promises made when vulnerable. Bail-outs don’t assist problem gamblers out of their addiction, but help to enable it further. Gamblers have to experience first hand the powerlessness and helplessness of their addiction in order to recover, and paying for them only lessens that awareness.

Compulsive Gambling is an easier addiction to treat compared to substance abuse

 One of the highest relapse rates in recovery come from problem gamblers in the first place. The experience of gambling has equipped problem gamblers with one of the highest rates of chicanery and the recovering addict has to fight this monster of hucksterism in order to get well. Other addicts will have to deal with the same manipulative demons in their recovery, but the extent of deception and delusion is nowhere as high as a problem gambler; whose bread and butter of his/her addictive behavior had depended on that cunning mind for years. Hence, even with the most comprehensive treatment plan, problem gamblers may have to spend up to 2 years to solidify their recovery in order to be removed from their addictive way of thinking. The urgency for treatment is there because the longer the problem gambler is in active addiction, the longer it will take to recover from it as the chicanery and cunningness grows over time with active gambling.

The Problem Gambler’s problem is that they don’t know how to play well

The House has designed games so that it always wins. Very few compulsive gamblers leave successfully after having won a game because the House ensures that bets are continuously  played until the player is skin-broke. Only the few gamblers who have their common wits about not placing any further bets manage to escape the lure of continuous betting, which is the hallmark of problem gambling. Seasoned, proud and professional players fall prey to this trap because it challenges their ego with regards to gambling. Hence playing well is more a liability than not knowing how to play, because the ones who leave unscathed usually are those who don’t know how to play or have given up gambling with the House.

Problem Gamblers Can return to “Moderate Gambling” after treatment at a rehab

Problem Gamblers can never return to any form of gambling if they want to secure the gains in which their recovery has given them. The addiction grows even in recovery. The high from winning can numb the pain of losing for years on end. Hence, just simply attempting “moderate gambling” or gambling in any form whatsoever is considered a relapse. With each relapse, the addict mind grows in its ability to delude itself that there are no problems in endeavoring another bet, and over time, the illness will worsen from when treatment was initially given.

Gambling Addicts Only hurt themselves and do not affect others

Gambling addicts are a burden to their loved ones. Half of the people married to problem gamblers divorce due to the pain of coming second or third to the addictive rush of gambling. Children of problem gamblers take up alcoholism, drug abuse, tobacco addiction; to mention a few just to numb themselves from their parents’ mood swings that arise from problem gambling. Furthermore, 64% of all problem gamblers will commit crimes to finance their ability to continue playing their game. Problem gambling does not just affect gambling addicts but their loved ones as well as society at large.

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