Gambling is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. Recent increases in billboards, gambling parlors, and riverboat casinos have been charted by industry professionals. It’s may be all fun and games for many individuals at casinos but psychological studies show 4%-6% of participants become addicted to gambling.
Some common types of gambling include:
* Horse and dog tracks
* Off the track betting
* Sports betting
* Stock market betting
* Dice games
* Carnival games
* Casino tables, examples: blackjack, poker, craps and roulette
* Slot machines
* Lottery scratchers and tickets
* Internet poker and games
Gambling addiction, or pathological gambling, was defined as “a disorder of impulse control” in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association. Gamblers Anonymous believes that the compulsive gambling addict has an enduring and progressive disease that can be treated, though not fixed.
Robert L. Custer, MD utilized a three phase model to chart the cycle of addiction to gambling: the winning phase, the losing phase, and the desperation phase. Throughout the winning phase the gambler may win a large amount of money or win a series of times and feel a delusional amount of happiness and optimism. The gambler will increase his number of bets and put more money down. In the course of the losing phase the gambler will often gamble alone, borrow money (legally or illegally) in pursuit of winning big, and withdraw from family or friends. Debts will begin to pile up and the gambler will typically reminisce about all his or her wins in the past. Finally, the desperation phase is commonly marked with feelings and acts of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or attempts, police arrests, divorce or breakups, substance or alcohol abuse, and emotional breakdowns. Time is spent gambling or committing illegal acts to finance gambling. The gambler usually blames friends and family and alienates from his or her responsibilities like work, bill payments, etc.
Although a gambling addict may be able to stop gambling for a short periods on his or her own, relapse is usually inevitable. Psychological studies and research has shown gabling addiction treatment is the favorable way to stop gambling for the long-term.
Gambling addiction help is usually pursued through these methods:
Outpatient rehabilitation centers: Addicted individuals usually meet Monday through Thursday and participate in one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Outpatient programs last four to six weeks or sometimes longer depending on the individual’s progress.
Inpatient rehabilitation centers: Institutes where the individual lives for thirty or more days and goes through intense therapy, groups, and sometimes, depending on the institution, attends Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
Support groups: Peer-to-peer groups which meet and discuss their addiction to gambling and other issues. Support groups sometimes include a moderator.
Gamblers Anonymous: A twelve-step program aimed at gambling addicts. The meetings are world-wide and can be found in any town. Gamblers anonymous members’ help each other manage their finances, debts, and legal issues and help in creating a new lifestyle without gambling. The meetings typically involve sharing, a speaker, and encouragement.