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When Gambling Takes over

The casino is a world onto itself. There are no windows. sa gaming, no alarm clock, but there are flashing lights, and the din of clacking coins and whirring slot machines. Beyond the spots, figures are mesmerized at the crap table. Interest in poker hit new height with televised Colorado Hold ’em tourneys. In most of gamblers, this is excitement, recreation, a fun diversion or escape from the ordinary and enable you to beat the odds. For others, a predicted three percent of the adult population, it’s an addiction, an endless roller coaster of excitement and lose heart.

A pervasive characteristic of addiction of any kind is that the repeated behaviors have led to a range of negative consequences. This might be putting it gently in the case of pathological wagering, because someone in the grips of compulsive wagering usually suffers severe blows to finances and relationships before seeking help. His or her life may be in shambles.

Often the compulsive gambler’s denial leads him to believe that the next round will save the day. Of course, if the numbers come up right, the amount of money or credit won is then “invested” again. Wagering addiction is hardly a newly released development, but the advent of electronic poker and the break-neck speed of today’s slot machines, as well as Internet wagering have actually sped up the time it takes to gamble for fun and when it slips into problematic, then compulsive behavior.

Pathological wagering, like other addictions, is both a organic and a behavioral disease. While we don’t know all the factors leading to wagering addiction, they will include social, family and psychological elements. We do know for sure that the brain neuropathways involving the brain’s components are affected in an plaintiff’s perception of rewarding experiences. The emotional escape an individual finds in wagering could become entrenched.

We have seen from 15-20 percent of patients who suffer from cross-addictive disorders, such as alcoholism or drug reliance with problem wagering. Some estimates declare that 35 percent of those with substance abuse or dependence also have met the diagnostic criteria for pathological wagering at some point in their lives. The SOGS (South Oaks Wagering Screen) is the accepted psychosocial diagnostic tool to identify a wagering problem and its further development.

Both substance and wagering addiction are progressive diseases, and may be seen as an inability to operate impulses (to use as well as to gamble) denial, anxiety mood ups and downs and depression and the need for instant gratification. Wagering, like chemical reliance, offers euphoric altitudes, which are inevitably pursued by emotional valleys and usually remorse and shame. A major difference in wagering versus substance addiction is that the intoxicating or drug addict doesn’t believe the substance is the answer to recovery and to his problems, while the compulsive gambler believes the Big Win will be the answer to all his problems.

Wagering addictions can also result in symptoms such as blackouts and sleep disorders and hopelessness. Divorce, relationship and work problems, even arrests are some devastating consequences of compulsive wagering. A person’s health and wellness is often neglected, including medical ailments that were ignored. Wagering addiction is certainly a family disease, creating a dysfunctional family system that revolves around the plaintiff’s addiction. Children may be emotionally stranded as well as physically neglected. Kids are affected long term too, with studies estimating 35 to 50 percent of children of pathological gamblers eventually experiencing wagering problems of their own.

It is important that when chemical and wagering addictions co-occur, they are treated at the same time. Like chemical reliance, wagering addiction is addressed in all natural treatment based on the Twelve Step Philosophy. Treatment is individual and takes into account issues of gender and age.

Wagering: is it the money?

Some experts, including Dr. Henry Lesieur, Saint. John’s University, THE BIG APPLE, who co-authored the SOGS screening assessment, believe it isn’t really about the money, even though money becomes a growing issue. Seeking action seems to be the major traction for many. Being for may be similar to the high of taking cocaine. “Chasing losses” is term use by habitual gamblers to describe attempting to recoup the wagering losses by winning. The action gambler usually likes to gamble on site, at a casino, racetrack, or other “live” venue. Often they are identified by casinos as “high rollers” and received comped rooms and meals. Others, though, don’t gamble for action so much as numb their feelings with compulsive wagering, so it becomes the ultimate, albeit temporary escape.

Age and gender as factors

A report by University of Connecticut Health Center psychiatrists published in 2002 evaluated gamblers seeking treatment and found significant differences by age and gender in pathological gamblers. Middle aged (aged 36-55) and older gamblers maintained to include more women, at 45-55 percent, than younger gamblers (aged 18-35) at twenty-three percent. Middle aged and older women didn’t begin wagering regularly until the age of 52, while older men reported a habit of lifelong wagering. Perhaps surprisingly, the women also wagered greatest amounts in the month prior to treatment. Younger gamblers reported most problems with substance abuse, social and legal problems, while older gamblers found more employment-related problems.

There is traumas recovery

Pathological gamblers, like others who suffer from addiction can and do recover. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with Wise Emotive Behavioral Therapy, can adjust unhealthy behaviors and thoughts, including false beliefs, rationalizations, and self-destructive feelings. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy also helps individuals to meet life untreated terms rather than escape painful emotions with compulsive addictions.

A all natural treatment program that addresses the foundation issues of addiction as well as any co-occurring disorders is an effective approach that treats the whole person. Continuing care may be essential, especially for impulse control, as well as ongoing contribution in support groups such as Gamblers Nameless. The recovering gambler may also need professional financial advise, and family therapy can help to build a supportive, healthy family structure for sustained recovery.