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Gambling Addiction, Its Causes, Stages, Symptoms and Treatment

Gambling Addiction, Its Causes, Stages, Symptoms and Treatment

Today, gambling addiction is a real epidemic, and this concerns both children and adults. The average teenager spends up to six hours a day at the computer. Approximately 70% of children are addicted to games with stories of violence and cruelty. Addicts begin to confuse reality with the virtual world. Such a mania is considered a consequence of significant psychological pathologies. What causes a gambling addiction, what are its dangers, and how to overcome it?

Stages of gambling addiction

Gambling addiction does not occur at once, there are several stages in its development. Each is characterized by certain signs and changes in the behavior of the addict.

  1. Preparatory stage. An increase in susceptibility to gambling develops. Personal qualities such as low self-esteem, inability to control one’s own emotions, lack of desire to accept criticism, aggression, impulsivity, anxiety, depression and stress contribute to the development of gambling addiction. And this concerns not only computer games. At the same time, a person has a very strong desire to risk. Little by little, an unconscious hunger for a certain type of game develops. If these symptoms are ignored and not eliminated on time, then the disease proceeds to the next stage;
  2. Winning stage. The perception of the game is formed in the human mind as a way to realize oneself, and sometimes to get material benefits. The mind begins to clouder, and even a small win strongly stimulates interest. An illusion is created that a person creates his/her own destiny. At this stage, people are not able to understand the consequences of their actions. Dissatisfaction and criticism from loved ones can be perceived very negatively, as a desire to question the self-realization and success of the gambler;
  3. Losing stage. Gambling addicts find themselves in a closed loop of certain events. The desire to gamble is not every time reinforced by the presence of material opportunities. They spend all available funds and even tend to take loans. After a chain of losses, their desire to gamble disappears for a while and they understand their mistakes. However, if there are some provoking factors (for example, advertising or emerging material opportunities), gamblers again follow their desire, and the story repeats. The less the interval between cycles, the more developed the disease. The difficult financial situation and constant losses increase the level of anxiety, the gambler becomes angry and irritable;
  4. Despair stage. Due to a systematic desire to gamble, a person loses interest in everything else. Problems arise at school or at work, the social environment changes, the psychological state does not allow him/her to exist normally in the family. Loved ones can no longer bear never-ending deceptions, debts and negative attitudes and gradually begin to distance themselves. The gambler often realizes that the reason for everything is addiction, however, all attempts to control oneself do not bring a positive result. A depressed psychological state often leads to alcohol or drug abuse, which further exacerbates the disease. In such a state, people can break the law, sell existing real estate, valuables, take loans. The only solution a person sees is the opportunity to gamble further in order to solve his/her financial and social troubles with a win;
  5. The stage of hopelessness. The patient realizes his/her dependence and realizes that there is practically no probability of hitting the jackpot, nevertheless, continues to gamble. At the same time, he/she is ruled by the desire to experience habitual emotions during the game, which is a sign of psychological dependence.

What causes a gambling addiction?

Possible causes of gambling addiction:

  • Various mental disorders (psychopathy);
  • Peculiarities of a human character, complexes, shyness;
  • Many people use games to realize their childhood fantasies and fears;
  • Deficit of communication. This problem is very relevant among children and adolescents whose parents are constantly busy at work;
  • Intra-family conflicts. Often, in order to avoid family scandals, people plunge into an invented world, which only aggravates the situation;
  • Social phobias – when a person is afraid of interpersonal relationships and real society. Computer games help him/her get away from real life, feel significant and strong. The computer becomes an interlocutor and friend for him.

Treatment of gambling addiction

Addiction cannot be viewed as an independent disease since it is a consequence of serious mental problems. It is important to identify the root cause of this phenomenon and deal specifically with it. There are various gambling addiction treatment program options.

To treat gambling addiction, doctors usually use psychotherapy, medication, and hypnosis. It is very important to apply comprehensive measures. For gambling addiction, they also use autogenic training, psychosynthesis, family and behavioral psychotherapy, which¬†should be aimed at correcting family relationships, eliminating psychological attitudes (isolation), problems, and treating fears. The method of gestalt therapy is successfully applied, which helps to “close the gestalt”, that is, to solve the problem.

Symptomatic drug therapy for gambling addiction is aimed at treating depression, insomnia, increased anxiety, and irritability. At the same time, herbal preparations are often prescribed for sedation, but most often experts prescribe antipsychotics and tranquilizers. To stabilize sleep, patients needs to take hypnotics and antidepressants that relieve psychoemotional overexcitation and normalize mood.

Category: General Tags: addiction, gambling, game