Gambling addiction is one of the newest clinically recognized addictive behavioral disorders. Even though there is not a physical drug present, gambling addiction has the same effects on the brain as drugs as strong as opiates. Even worse, other disorders are correlated with gambling addiction such as depression, anxiety disorders, and ADHD. As if gambling addiction were not enough, these other disorders happen in higher rates in those facing gambling addiction compared to the general population.
With the introduction of the internet, online gambling has become a bigger problem, enabling those who have already shown addictive gambling behavior. Online gambling is a booming industry, continuously growing in multiple interest groups, whether it be fantasy football sites like FanDuel, or betting money that you can lose weight by a certain deadline like DietBet.
One thing that makes online gambling even more dangerous for those already experiencing gambling addiction is how difficult it is for others to track. Many cites operate illegally – their statistics, user data, and identifying data are all under wraps. More so, it gives those with gambling addiction the ability to place bets and make wagers from the comfort of their own homes, at a faster rate than ever before.
Other than the correlated disorders, there are direct, clear-cut side effects of excessive gambling. In 2017, Americans who made bets in the lottery, gaming, and offshore regulated betting firms lost approximately $107 billion. Of course, not everyone gambles, and some people wager more than others, but for the sake of visualizing how much money is lost annually: If every person over the age of 18 in the United States (252.06 million people) had gambled and lost money gambling in 2017, that would average out to about $424.50 per person.
The money lost by those affected by gambling addiction is money that could be taken out of different places in someone’s budget – bills, groceries, essentials. Excessive gambling associated with gambling addiction can also have a negative effect on everyday relationships, work-place satisfaction, personal self-esteem, etc.
You would imagine that an addiction as powerful as gambling addiction would have more clinical research and treatment options available. Unfortunately, most people do not know about this disorder or know about the negative side effects associated.
Addiction based treatment, like for other addictions, is an effective solution for those affected by gambling addiction to help address the behavior at the source of the problem.
If you are looking for a lower level of care, or a supplement to your treatment options, call us at smartIOP for Gambling today.Learn More
This week, Virginia’s Casino Bill passed another barrier. The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee approved the bill, and has now sent it to the Senate Finance Committee for review. The General Laws committee even added two more cities that would be able to establish casinos, making for a grand total of five cities: Bristol, Portsmouth, Danville, Richmond, and Norfolk.
Proponents of the bill claim that the casinos will, “increase jobs and tax revenues in economically distressed areas.” This is indeed a likely outcome of legalizing casinos. However, gambling addiction makes the ethics of it questionable. Nine independent studies suggest that gambling addicts account for 30-60% of gambling revenues. This fact is not a secret in the industry, judging by the advancements casinos have made in making the atmosphere more and more predatory towards addicts.
The brain of a problem gambler works differently than those that are temperate gamblers. For a gambling addict, the times that they almost win registers in the brain the same way as an actual win. With this knowledge, slot machines started having these “near-wins” occur at higher instances than would happen if it were based on luck instead of algorithms. To no surprise, this illusion of being right on the edge of your luck has been associated with longer play times.
Casinos and most other forms of gambling are businesses, meaning that they have a bottom line they need to accomplish. If a majority of their revenues are coming from compulsive gamblers, they are going to cater to that audience whether it is ethical or not. And they do.
Even if compulsive gamblers were once a minority in terms of raking in profit for casinos, they are still more desirable to reel in than a non-compulsive gambler. There’s less need to entice gambling addicts to come and gamble. It’s less difficult to get addicts to stay longer, and spend more money. Essentially, gambling addicts are the cheapest route to gaining the most money. As such, the business plan of a casino is geared towards the gambling addict, not the occasional gambler.
The predatory nature of casinos is growing with time. Data is the easiest way to confirm which customers will be the most profitable. This data is gained through ATMs, and then that information is oftentimes sold to the casino. Reward programs and loyalty cards that casinos offer are also a method of gaining this valuable data (as well as a profit). The reward programs entice gamblers to come to the casino with free drinks or hotels. The loyalty cards allow the casino to see how many games you played, how many drinks you bought, what times you visit, and how long you play. For the patrons that forego these options, data can and often is still collected through cameras hidden in machines.
This brings us back to the ethical nature of Virginia’s SB 1126 casino bill. Casinos are actively trying to locate compulsive gamblers, and have no monetary benefit for doing otherwise. Thus, it could be argued that the increased tax revenue and access to jobs might mean better prospects for some in the community, but only at the detriment of those in the community that have a propensity for addiction.
Lining your pockets at the expense of someone with gambling addiction might be easier if you tell yourself that it is the fault of the individual (the addict), not the business. I would argue that this way of thinking says more about the person saying it than the person they are referencing. Given that America is a very individualistic society, it makes sense that many would blame the individual for their problems. However, many other societies think more collectively. Thus, addicts are seen as the product of a society that has failed them. This collectivist perspective is optimal; we don’t blame people for getting cancer, so why do we blame people for their addiction? Ultimately, it makes sense that casinos will not buy in to this way of thinking, because it would be a litigious nightmare (i.e. gambling addicts or their families suing casinos for their role in the addiction).
Some proponents say that the voluntary exclusion programs that many casinos offer is a good way of combating the predatory nature of casinos. Unfortunately, these programs do not seem to be well-enforced. In fact, gamblers are oftentimes still able to get into the casino and play games – so long as they are losing. Once they win, they are told they are being arrested for trespassing. This also once again puts all of the responsibility on the addict, while conveniently forgetting all of the ways casinos actively try to entice compulsive gamblers to give in to their compulsions. If the casino’s tax revenue is such a selling point of Virginia’s bill, then that would have to mean that casinos are doing a stellar job at enticing these individuals, right?
It seems as though the advocate’s claims of more jobs and tax revenue for impoverished areas might be more about buzz words than truthfulness. New York has had casinos legalized for the past three years. Yet, they have fallen short of the revenue that was expected by 350 million dollars. If New York’s gambling endeavor has any generalizability to Virginia’s, it is safe to say that the idea of the bill may be more alluring than its reality.
Virginia’s casino bill still has a ways to go before it is a part of legislation. More people need to take action to ensure that gambling addicts are not being purposefully taken advantage of. In 2008, when many states were pondering similar bills to Virginia’s, $106 million was raised by gambling opponents compared to the $167 million of proponents. Pair this with more people sympathizing with buzzwords like “economically distressed areas” over gambling addicts (due to the individualistic perspectives people hold), and you have an easy recipe for silencing the very real concerns people have regarding casinos.
Take action now to help current and latent problem gamblers avoid potential havoc in their lives. Call and talk to your local congressmen and tell them your stance on the bill. You can find out who your congressmen are as well as their phone numbers and addresses here.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of compulsive gambling, please call Williamsville Wellness today. You do not have to face this disease alone.
Before the Shift
People often associate gambling and gambling addiction with men and masculinity. Exclusionary perspectives such as these are an even bigger concern in healthcare settings.
Influenced by these ideas, research, and the treatment approaches that proceed it, are heavily male-dominant.
This makes sense.
It’s impossible to expect human beings to completely strip themselves of their biases and notions, which applies to gambling addiction researchers and gambling counselors.
Unfortunately, this meant that for decades, female problem gamblers were placed on the back burner.
In the late 80s and early 90s, a shift occurred where people – including researchers and counselors – started thinking about women gamblers.
This includes research about the areas female gamblers differ from their male counterparts and in what ways. Furthermore, women-only gambling addiction groups started popping up during this time.
These steps were crucial in gaining quality support for female gambling addicts. In fact, these changes sparked a much needed re-evaluation of the one-size-fits-all approach to a more socio-cultural dynamic.
Consequently, the shift caused a demand for more research and literature on the topic.
After the Shift
Prior to the 90s, research participants were predominantly male.
Meaning, the results catered to men, but were applied to the rest of the population nonetheless. With the research and literature produced in the 90s and beyond, it is now clear just how problematic this method was.
Women gamblers differ from men in everything from their motivations to gamble to the actual games they played during active addiction (Problem Gambling Foundation, 2016).
The process by which women develop addiction is even different from a man’s (Problem Gambling Foundation, 2016).
More specifically, women’s roles in society seem to manifest themselves into the lives of female problem gamblers. Women tend to gamble using methods based on luck rather than competition, like scratchers or slots.
Similarly, the complete anonymity of online gambling is alluring to many female gamblers. Some online female gamblers even go as far as portraying themselves as men online.
Although, there are obviously women that do not follow any of these trends. This knowledge can help mold treatment approaches, in that the relationship a woman has with gambling is likely different than a man’s.
A Canadian study found that the population of female problem gamblers had higher rates of childhood physical abuse and sexual abuse than the general population (Boughton, 2003).
The general population has more females experiencing these issues than males. Thus, it is likely that these occurrences are more prevalent in female gambling addicts.
Another point highlighted the woman’s willingness to seek treatment. Some female gambling addicts are dating or married to drug, alcohol, or gambling addicts.
If their partner is against seeking treatment for themselves, women have a tendency to acquire the same viewpoint for their own gambling issues.
This aligns with the societal benefits of women being more submissive than men.
What Does This Mean as a Female Gambler?
Knowledge is power, which is particularly useful in recovery.
Gambling addiction is not a clear-cut disease. Personal experiences, society, and culture all impact its nature. The more you can learn about your own gambling addiction, the easier it will make your recovery. For example, identifying your triggers can be easier knowing why they trigger you.
If you regularly went to bingo halls on Sundays, and now you stay home instead, it might make sense if you were feeling depressed. By not maintaining the social interaction one had in active addiction during recovery, there’s going to be a feeling of loss.
Through a gendered analysis, it makes even more sense if one considers women’s societal roles, with social interactions often being on the forefront.
It’s safe to say that seeking treatment as a female problem gambler is considerably less difficult now, given the shift in research and literature.
However, that does not mean we should forget the considerable impact our gender (or race, socioeconomic status, religion, etc.) has on our addictive nature.
This is not to say you must, or should, only attend female-centered treatment groups. Instead, consider it as another tool in your box, ready to take out if needed.
Around this time of year most people are doing lots of spending. There is much planning to be made in regards to trips.
Family might be flying in from different states. For some, it may take a lot to really bring everyone together.
There are also many grocery store trips that will be made. Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition for most people. This is the season where people get together with their loved ones to carve a turkey, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where we should set out focus on the things in which we are most appreciative of. Whether it may be our jobs, the roof over our heads, the family we have or even the good health we are in. Thanksgiving is a holiday where many people all across the world show thankfulness and kindness.
Unfortunately thanksgiving is also a time where some big companies, such as casinos use the holidays to take advantage of those who struggle with gambling addictions.
Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season where people begin to splurge so most casinos use this as a way to entice and target people to come spend their money with them for incentives.
Although the temptation might be seemingly irresistible, the action of stepping back into the gambling lifestyle may push a problem gambler right back into a spiral of addictive behaviors.
Thankfully, we’ve included ways casinos use promotions to tempt the public, and an easy guide to focusing on the holidays to block out any triggering promotions that casinos display this season.
Incentives Casinos Use
Aside from casinos many tactics use to lure the public in (Read:http://smartiopforgambling.com/addiction/do-casinos-enable-the-pathological-gambler/), they implement more enticing prizes and winnings around the holidays in hope that more people will come and spend their cash there with them instead.
So the normal tactics in which casinos generally use are the crazy and colorful designed carpets, these are not by accident. They are all part of the plan to keep you feeling as if you are enjoying yourself. Also, all of the bright lights and the repetitive noises, these are all aesthetically pleasing for most people.
In an example casinos create a sense of arcade and playground like an adult chuck-e-cheese’s.
Around the holidays casinos have “deals” they toss out to the public these most often look like these examples listed:
- Swipe your Club Card at any kiosk from 10am – 6pm and win up to $1000 in FREEplay!
- Gold Club members must earn a minimum of 25 tier slot points to participate.
- Our casino will be giving out $15,000 in cash, gift cards and free slot play on Black Friday.
- Every hour from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Reward members will have the chance to win $300 in free slot play, plus if present, a $200 Macy’s gift card.
- At 9:00 p.m., one lucky winner will win $5,000 in cash.
- Free dinner for 2 when you win $50 at any slot machine.
- Free car to one lucky winner. Every $20 bet is a chance for you to enter. Enter as many as 200 times!!
Although, reading these most people could recognize that you would still be spending your own money in hopes to win, inside of the mind of a problem gambler, they see chances to increase their current financial position. This is Clever in the sense of marketing how well casinos prey on the weak.
They create a facade to a person who maybe has only a couple hundred and builds up the idea of them having the opportunity to double or even triple what they bet. This creates a desire for most problem gamblers, to keep going until they win big.
Unfortunately in most cases they will lose all they had to begin with before they even come to grips with the reality they have just been hustled.
Understanding that the casinos use holidays to trigger addicts and those who are in recovery with exciting gifts and deals, just might be the key to helping you stay away from dangerous relapsing situations.
Here is a small list of tips to steering clear of diving into gambling this holiday season. Hopefully by sticking to this plan you’ll only be diving into a delicious turkey dinner!
Trust Your Gut
Often times, we experience this “intuition” when we are faced with something that we are not too sure of. We get an uneasy feeling about the situation, no matter what it is. Something being said or done, or maybe just being somewhere, but then comes that sensation of “this isnt right”, and of course that’s where the saying “trust your gut” comes from.
When given a situation you do not feel confident about you should listen to that feeling and exit the situation immediately. As an addict, you are more in touch with those familiar feelings and should learn to recognize and identify when you’re in a high risk situation.
You might feel like gambling during the holidays is “harmless” because it was just this once, However, you should not engage in behaviors that have previously triggered a full blown addiction for you.
Do not go against what you are feeling if something is telling you “get out”, the n that is precisely what you must do to stay true to your successful recovery during this holiday season.
Holiday season is busy as it is, it is wise to build an itinerary for you and your loved ones. Perhaps sticking to a schedule might possibly help you distract any urges you might encounter with casinos and other gambling outlets pushing out promotions.
Having things planned will make it easier to stick to a schedule and avoid relapsing, here are some ideas of things to do during thanksgiving with family and friends:
- Black Friday shopping. Even if you are not spending much money, the excitement of waiting in line for doorbusters and rushing to the sales is memorable and quiet fun.
- Thanksgiving buffet dinner. Although not the traditional dinner, this is actually a pretty interesting take on tradition, with no kitchen time required from you or your loved ones, there is more time for you all to bond and spend quality time.
- Exploring, Depending on your area, this might be a fun option. Hiking is a great way to get exercise and get outdoors and bond with friends and family over exploring trails.
- Volunteering. Giving back is a perfect way to express thankfulness during the holidays. Serving at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter could be a reminder of how much you have to be grateful for.
- Browse through old photo albums. reminiscing on old memories is the easiest way to reconnect and bond with your loved ones during the holiday. Also, adding to the photo album could be a fun activity to add. Having a mini photoshoot and capturing the moments that are being created.
These are simple yet very fulfilling ideas to plan with your friends and family. If you’re busy with entertaining and hosting a scheduled itinerary you’ll have less time feeling pressure or temptations to gamble. You will be enjoying the holidays as you should be rather than stepping backwards into a spiral of issues that follow gambling addiction.
Your loved ones will appreciate the time you took to plan such a fun trip for the holidays and they will be be thankful for you. You will be thankful you fought the urge to gamble and be proud of yourself for following through with your recovery.
Avoid High Risk Situations
Sometimes when family and friends are visiting they want to take a step outside of their every day to day lives. They might be stuck behind a desk all day or serving others as means to support themselves, and the holidays are a perfect little getaway for them.
They often find vacation a way to have guilt free spending and because they save and have budgeted to spend they do not experience any of the shoppers remorse afterwards. However, this may be an event you might just have to sit out.
Ask your friends and family if you could all find another way to enjoy the time away from their regular everyday lives and celebrate the holidays with you perhaps spending another way that is not detrimental you your road to recovery.
Your loved ones will understand and respect that you are taking accountability for your addiction and see the changes you are making by following a safety guide to avoid relapse.
Gambling addiction is real issue, and unfortunately, healing is a rigorous road to recovery but it is possible. By seeking help when you need it you are taking action in taking control of your life. This holiday season take back your control over gambling.
Be thankful you didn’t give in and rejoice with your loved ones. Have a wonderful thanksgiving!
Around this time of the year, many people are overjoyed and celebrating the many festivities to be had.
Families and friends are all gathered together, visiting and sharing memories.
The holidays are perfect for cooking a hot meal, making some drinks and playing some games. Everyone seems to quickly be filled with happiness and harmony.
It is the most wonderful time of the year. For some, however, the holidays can often become, unfortunately, one of the biggest triggering seasons in a problem gamblers entire year.
I sure bet you’re wondering how?
Well, its simple, good food is cooked, memories are beginning to be made, games are being played and occasionally it adds to the event of fun by placing bets upon games for winnings.
In most cases, this is just good ole’ fun and family bonding.
This could actually target a recovering gambling addiction into a relapse of their retired habit.
Here are just a few ways you can be triggered:
• Seemingly harmless games such as Poker and other friendly card games.
• Some family and friends might give away Scratch-off tickets as gifts to loved ones.
• Popular holiday sports events may provide opportunities to place bets on predicted winners and outcomes.
• The holiday season is the usual time in which many individuals take trips and vacations. These resorts and other destinations provide very unique gambling options.
Unfortunately, there are many more triggering situations that can cause problem gamblers to feel the urge to bet their money and begin to spend on gambling.
If you or someone you know is in recovery from a gambling addiction, you must avoid gambling “triggers” in order for your recovery to continue successfully. Even the slightest indulgence can offset your entire journey of progress if the goal is to fully and honestly recover and control your addiction.
Avoiding Holiday Gambling Addiction Triggers
What are some gambling triggers?
These are the reasons or circumstances that most often have or still may cause you to gamble.
Whether your most common way of gambling is by purchasing lottery tickets, or going to different types of casinos. Perhaps partaking in online gambling such as slots for example, or possibly another method.
Gambling triggers often sprout from emotional triggers. Such as anger and frustration to circumstances such as being around people who are gambling.
Just the exposure to the excitement of others gambling. A problem gambler may get a sense of adrenaline just thinking about gambling. Thus, resulting in fighting the urge to gamble to become decreased.
Which ultimately, can interfere with their full recovery. Or even push a gambling addict back into their addiction altogether with.
What Can You Do?
During the holidays, there are many options for gambling addicts to steer clear of temptation! Here are a few tips to get your through.
If you or someone you know is a recovering gambling addict, you may have already put someone else in charge of your finances. This is a key component to a successful recovery.
Having to budget and plan expenses, helps avoid the urge of senseless spending or betting.
If you are at all concerned about yours or someone else urges to gamble during the holidays, make sure you (or they) do not have any sort of access to a surplus of funds or any significant amounts of cash.
This could raise temptation to spend or to gamble during the holidays.
Family Gathering Decisions
Request that your family and friends could please refrain from gambling when playing any sort of games together during this holiday season.
As we all know, a good old fashion card game can be enjoyable. Although, for some placing “bets” on ones winnings might be fun, card games can also be fun without the transfer of money or other types of material goods.
It would probably be in your best interest to refrain from playing these games at all. This will avoid you being reminded of, or triggered by, your past gaming activity. Not to mention, the feelings associated with any sort of wins and losses.
In addition, a request that no gambling occurs while you’re present will allow others to play without posing any immediate danger to you or your loved one’s addiction.
Avoid Dangerous Gifts
As the holiday season draws near, many people are scrambling about trying to come up with the best holiday gift ideas.
For those who give cards, or stuff stockings, sometimes it seems easy, and harmless, to throw in a scratch-off, but “harmless” is absolutely not the case.
Offering scratch-offs could lead to a future of addictions. This is concerning to adolescents as well as and not limited to adults. Underage gambling places our youth at risk to struggle with an addiction disguised as traditional, which creates a harder to break the habit.
Similar to the above passage, the request to our friends and family members that there be no holiday gifts that come in the from of cash or scratch-off tickets.
Both of these types of gifts could possibly trigger the urge to spend on gambling even if it may be “just this once”.
Unfortunately, this action can spiral into the return of a far more serious gambling addiction.
Avoiding Stress During The Holidays
The holidays are meant to bring joy as family and friends come together to celebrate, reminisce, and create new memories.
Although the holidays are a joyous time, many people struggle with stress and anxiety as the holidays approach. Though stress is not good for anyone, stress is especially dangerous for people in recovery.
This stress may lead a person, in recovery, into a relapse.
To continue on the path of recovery, and enjoy the holidays with less stress, below are some options for dealing with this, seemingly, inevitable stressful time.
As you read through these options, remember, not all methods work for everyone at a given time. There are a variety of stress relieving activities listed below as options.
Every person, and every situation is different.
• Healthy Eating
Know Who You Are
Think to yourself about what things initially caused you to gamble before your recovery. Remember why you have chosen to walk away from the life of a gambling addiction.
Implement any skills and tools you’ve learned while on your road to recovery. Make sure your behaviors and habits do not change during the holiday season.
You or your loved one must avoid anything that may trigger gambling impulses.
This may mean monitoring your alcohol intake, or turning down vacation day trips to casinos with friends. Make sure no extra vacation time causes you any feelings of boredom or loneliness.
Remaining honest with yourself will be the ultimate key to maintaining your new recovered life after a gambling addiction.
When you feel the urge to gamble, think about the circumstances. Ask yourself:
What am I feeling right now?
Is it stress, frustration or anger? What is making you want to gamble? How can you deal with these feelings without gambling?
What can you do to cope with stressful or frustrating situations, and how can you manage your anger without placing a bet?
Or could it be happiness that is making you want to gamble? It is not uncommon for gambling to be used as a method to celebrate and can also be socialization for many people.
Unfortunately for most people, emotions impact and drive many of our decisions.
As you identify what emotions cause you to want to gamble, you may need to seek advice from counselors or other recovering problem gamblers.
It’s always a good idea to find alternate ways of managing feelings so that you can keep your own recovery on track.
What is the environment I am in right now?
You have to ask yourself and be honest. Are you in a place where gambling is encouraged? Are you surrounded by people who are gambling?
There will be times that you will have to remove yourself from a setting that may be disruptive to your recovery.
Whether it’s deciding not to visit the casino with friends or choosing to not participate in a workplace gambling pool, avoiding each one of these triggers can and will keep your recovery safe.
Know Where To Find Help
This holiday season doesn’t need to be left hanging. Know where to obtain any assistance desired or needed immediately.
You do not have to feel alone. Your recovery is very important! By taking the appropriate steps in the right direction, it might be just the thing to save you from a set back upon your recovery.
As you prepare for this holiday season, make sure you know exactly where you can find help if you or a loved one are bothered by a strong urge to gamble again.
Keep in mind that the hours that local counselors and treatment centers may vary during the holiday season. Be sure to secure that you will have assistance accessible just in case of an emergency.
If you need help to keep from gambling and to maintain on your journey to recovery and success, call 833-810-8001 immediately!Learn More
We often turn the other cheek at the idea of establishments advertising addictive products and disguising them as “fun” (i.e. alcohol, vapes).
Although casinos look like an adult playground, the atmosphere and incentives offered entice one to “stay and play”, have we not considered that is all part of the plan?
Gambling gives you such an adrenaline rush. When you place your bet and win, you feel invigorating…until you lose. now, for most people, walking away and accepting the loss isn’t an arm twisting decision.
However for someone with a gambling addiction, that just is not the case. The importance of walking away a winner can cost gamblers everything.
Making gambling a priority may lead to them sacrificing their jobs, their money, their relationships with friends and family, and in some situations even their lives.
So, is it too far fetched a theory that casinos do in fact, intentionally enable pathological gamblers?
If you or someone you know has struggled or is currently struggling with gambling addiction, here are some enlightening tips about things to look out for to notice when a casino is preying on you.
What makes a casino so appealing to people?
There is this sense of hypnosis a casino can create, quite literally on purpose. The first thing you recognize when entering is the lighting.
Casino’s tend to keep it very bright and well lit to allow you to feel more awake and alive.
Most customers of casinos would agree that these gambling establishments have the gaudiest carpets they have ever seen. Believe it or not, these brightly colored carpets, with psychedelic designs, are no mistake.
They are, in fact, another one of the casino psychology tricks that keep players alert and happy, encouraging them to play more. These wild carpets won’t allow your eyes to sleep; it will shock them back awake.
Most casinos do not have clocks, windows or fluctuation in temperature. This is what is referred to as the “time warp”.
Casinos do not display clocks that are easily readable. That is if they provide any at all. Removing the concept of time completely designs a more narrowed focus to just atmosphere itself.
If you don’t wear a watch to the casino or you forgot your phone at home, good luck finding out the time.
Time has no meaning in a casino. You won’t find a clock.
Think about it, you cant even see the world outside. Since there are no windows, there are no indicators to help you determine if it’s light or dark outside.
Casinos are purposely designed to look the same, regardless of the hour, and the atmosphere is unchanging.
When you’re in the casino, your internal sense of time shuts off. All that exists is a now that stretches on until you leave. Players who don’t know the time aren’t in a hurry to quit playing.
Casino floors are generally very neutral when it comes to temperatures. Which produces a comfortability and a desire to stay.
The entire aesthetic that most casinos project, says “it’s never time to leave”.
Drunk people take more risks than sober people, alcohol affects the brain, slowing it down.
Even a player who doesn’t get drunk can still make poor decisions under the influence of alcohol.
There’s nothing like a paid up bar tab to make you feel like you have enough extra cash to burn.
Second, gamblers who get buzzed or drunk are far more likely to be careless with their money.
Overall, alcohol corrupts the thinking process of a gambler, which is often a detriment to them but a major benefit to the casino.
Free liquor is hands down the dirtiest tactic used by casinos to encourage gamblers to spend.
The feel that you receive the very moment you arrive is how friendly and welcoming the staff are, the free drinks, it appears that you are valued as a guest.
The reality is that everyone within the casino from dealers to the waitresses, have been programmed to make you feel good, important and lose enough to spend.
What entices people to stay?
Labyrinth Floor Plans
It seems that in most casinos, you can’t find the exit. The concept is “I cant get out of here, so why not just sit down and play a hand or two?”.
When you walk into a casino at any hour you will notice that the vibe is consistent.
It is all the same music, lights, smells, sounds, etc. It’s in a sense, the adult Chuck E. Cheese.
Casinos are very smart about giving losers little rewards just for playing.
Unfortunately, the losers are who account for MOST people in a casino. Alright, it’s not too bad, you lost $5,000 but the hotel gave you a complimentary stay.
So it seems as if a person only lost $3,000, they will realize they still lost $3,000.
A gambler will rationalize that he made some of the losses back on the comps, so it wasn’t all that bad.
Convince of Credit Cards
Without inserting actual cash into the machine, every time you make a bet, it’s easy to forget how much you’re spending. Once you cash out from the machine, a ticket is printed with your remaining balance.
Since you’re not holding physical paper money in your hand, it’s easy to feed that ticket into another machine and keep playing.
The only way to cash your winnings is to visit the cashier. Casinos make it easy for you to play, but not easy for you to walk away.
Sense of Control
Some casino games are designed to give players the feeling of “control.”
This illusion of control can fool many gamblers into thinking that they actually will have a higher chance of winning, which can result in them playing for longer and spending more.
Now, let’s establish the reality that many addicts, when referring to gambling are in fact pathological gamblers. Most of those gambler’s, are very discreet and private.
To the extent of their friends and or their loved ones being completely unaware. Or rarely notice any signs or symptoms giving away the addiction.
So how do we identify if someone is a pathological gambler?
First, What IS a Pathological Gambler?
A person with a gambling disorder, which occurs when a person gambles so compulsively that the wagering has tremendous negative effect on his or her job, relationships, mental health, or even other important aspects of life.
Some may continue to gamble even after they have developed social, economic, interpersonal, or legal problems as a result of the gambling.
Denial of Their Addiction Altogether
By the time someone is deep into gambling, their behavior usually becomes consistent and predictable. They will do anything and say anything to get to their primary goal: gambling.
Denial is a coping mechanism that pathological gambler’s uses to attempt to mask his or her problem. They hope to keep the truth from coming out, the gambler tries to buy time – time they use just to keep on gambling.
In conclusion, Casinos have absolutely used and still do use psychology based tricks on people who are gamblers, whether they have only played once or multiple times.
Something as simple as walking through a casino in vegas to get out to the strip can be a luring experience for someone.
In most cases the disorder develops more slowly over a period of years; yet, there are cases of patients who gambled socially for decades and then began to gamble compulsively as a coping mechanism to life stressors, such as divorce or being laid off from work.
Why People Roll The Dice
“…the pure excitement/dread of not knowing how you’re going to feed your family if you lose the next hand. The thrill of winning such huge stakes is what drives you to go back over and over and over again. Even knowing full well that you WILL lose most of the time.
That the odds are stacked in the house’s favor. Yet, the draw is still there. Because every gambling addict that quits, always quit right before the big one…” – Anonymous Gambling Addict
The flip side of this is where the real truth lies:
It’s going to be even harder to feed your family WHEN you lose the next hand, or the one after that. The thrill of winning is going to be nothing compared to losing your job, your family, your home…
And, the only “big one” you’re really quitting before, is the biggest loss of your life – the loss control. The loss of your wellbeing.
Gambling Addiction Facts
– Gambling addiction affects 2-3% of Americans (that’s millions of people!)
– Gambling addiction generally develops earlier in men, but women now make up 25% of gambling addicts, and their symptoms usually escalate much quicker.
– Direct causes of gambling addictions are unusual. However, the manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder and some medications that treat Parkinson’s disease and restless leg disorder have been associated with the development of gambling addictions.
– Risk factors for developing a gambling addiction include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance addictions, especially alcoholism.
Gambling comes in many forms. Tables at casinos, slot machines, high-stakes poker games, betting with your friends over your favorite football teams.
It is even more readily available through online gambling, which can make it easy to become addicted to and difficult to quit without help.
Gambling triggers the reward center in your brain, creating much the same response as many people receive from getting high or having sex.
How To Know When It’s Time To “Fold”
As with any other addiction, there are some red flags that can be observed when gambling has crossed over from a hobby to an addiction:
-The feeling that you need to lie about, or hide your gambling activities from people you care about or respect.
-Your finances are crumbling around you, and you are skipping paying important bills or borrowing money to continue to gamble.
-Using gambling to help you “escape” problems in your life or to ease depression or anxiety.
-Putting important relationships, responsibilities, and your employment at risk to continue to feed your gambling addiction.
-Returning to gambling after losing money in an effort to recoup losses.
Attempting to quit and feeling anxious or depressed about it, or failing to quit multiple times in a row.
This is a sure-fire sign of ANY type of addiction.
“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
–Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
If you even suspect that you may have an addiction to gambling, finding support and help on your journey to recovery is very important.
There are support groups and 12 Step Programs, which are proven to be effective for treating every type of addiction out there.
Being vulnerable and honest with trusted friends and family can bring more understanding and connection, and release some of the shame attached to addiction. Isolation is often a difficult side-effect of any kind of addiction, which is part of why the 12-Step Programs work so well.
Having sponsors and supportive people who understand your addiction can greatly increase your chances of recovery.
Diagnosis & Treatment Of Gambling Addiction
“The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
To receive an accurate diagnosis, it is important to talk to your doctor honestly about what is going on with you. It is rarely easy to open up to anyone about a possible addiction or self-destructive behavior, but to receive help, you must first ask for it.
Some medical conditions can cause an individual to develop erratic, impulsive behaviors.
This include problem gambling, so it is important to get a full physical and psychological checkup to determine the root of the issue.
Your doctor may prescribe therapy, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication to help with root issues that may be causing your gambling addiction.
Many rehabilitation centers have effective treatment available for gambling addiction.
Financial counseling will likely be an important step during recovery from gambling addiction. It is not uncommon to end up in serious debt or bankruptcy, to default on loans, and to lose major investments like your home or car.
It is important to note that 70% of people diagnosed with gambling addiction are also diagnosed with another psychiatric disorder.
Therefore, it is important to get proper diagnosis, and find treatment that will address all mental health conditions that may come into play.
Alcoholism, cocaine use, and other substance abuse is common with Gambling Addiction.
These things can create unfortunate health side effects that you may need to address during recovery.
In addition, many people who did not previously show signs of depression or anxiety may develop feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, mood disorders, or even suicidal tendencies.
This is a result of the difficult circumstances that can be brought about through gambling addiction.
If things have gotten so bad that you are feeling hopeless, suicidal, or considering self-harm, it is important to seek IMMEDIATE help.
In cases such as this, an in-patient program may be an important step in recovery.
Remember That Recovery Is Possible!
Admitting that you have a problem, as we all know, is the first step. But what comes next? It can be overwhelming to take stock of the wreckage that addiction can create in one’s life, finances, and relationships.
However, that is a necessary step.
Here are some other helpful steps you can take as you get started on this journey:
– Make a list of all of your debts.
Again, we know this can be overwhelming and upsetting. However, it is important to have it all on paper so you know where to begin. Overdue payments, cash advances, money borrowed from loved ones, and money you owe casinos may go on this list.
Foreclosures or repossessions may also be at the top of the list.
After you make this list, set it aside and get to the next step:
– Make a list of ways that gambling has negatively affected your life and health
Physical health issues from alcoholism, smoking, or skipping meals and exercise may all go on this list.
As mentioned earlier, emotional issues such as depression or anxiety are likely to arise from the situations and problems created in your life by gambling.
Lost jobs, lost trust, lost friends… unfortunately, these may all be side effects of a gambling addiction as well.
Legal issues may have arisen out of your gambling addiction from arrests, divorce, unpaid bills, etc.
Your family life is also likely to have suffered. Your spouse and/or kids may have lost respect or trust in you, or you may be in the middle of separation or divorce.
It is time to take stock of the relationships you may be able to mend, apologies that need to be made, and to really understand how to begin to “change the things you cannot accept, and accept the things you cannot change.”
– List the reasons you compulsively gambled
Understanding the reasons you have engaged in unhealthy behavior is key to building a foundation of healthy behavior.
– Limit your access to gambling and to your own money
Doing this may include avoiding casinos, having a trusted loved one place blocks on your computer or internet so you cannot access online gambling, having your paychecks direct deposited into a spouse’s account instead of your own, etc.
You may also need to cancel credit cards, give your ATM card to trusted person, put yourself on a daily cash allowance, and advise those close to you not to lend you any money.
– Identify your triggers and ways you can redirect or overcome them
Triggers may be internal (thoughts or feelings) or external (situations) and lead to the urge or desire to gamble.
Internal triggers may include feelings of shame, helplessness, anger, anxiety, or even boredom.
External triggers may include things like billboards for casinos, TV commercials for gambling, or poker tournaments on TV.
Replace compulsive reactions to triggers with healthy behaviors such as exercise, spending time with family, productive hobbies and activities.
Recovery Is The One “Game” You Should Bet On….
Recovering from gambling addiction is possible and there are many forms of support to help you achieve this.
Start out by practicing forgiveness and gentleness toward yourself.
Take the steps that your doctor, therapist, and/or support group advise. As you begin to heal from the psychological and emotional issues that be created by gambling addiction, you will see the toxic cycle begin to slow to a halt. Healing always begins from within.
Therapy, medications, meditation, and connection can all be very useful. The prognosis for recovery from gambling addiction is hopeful!
With treatment, 2/3rds of people with gambling addiction were still able to abstain from gambling a year after receiving 6 weeks of treatment. Consistency with your treatment, and continuing on a path of self-improvement and healing will make all the difference.
One step at a time, one good choice at a time, you CAN quit the game, and win the war against gambling addiction.Learn More
There are some things to keep in mind when you or someone you love is battling with a Gambling Addiction. Gambling debt is on the rise in the United States.
Approximately 85% of American adults have gambled at least once in their lifetime.
The gambling industry nets approximately $500 Billion dollars a year.
That’s right $500 Billion dollars. That’s an astounding number.
It is estimated that as many as 23 million Americans go into debt because of gambling.
That being said, we have to ask ourselves- are we “all in” or have we “folded”?
Unless you are a statistical genius, then the odds are probably stacked against you.
When the odds are against you, and your luck has run out, you may find yourself stuck with a pile of debt instead of a pile of chips.
If you find yourself in a similar situation the answer is not to “go all in”. The answer is to fold and walk away.
This may sound easier than it is, but we have to start somewhere. Just like any other addiction, a gambling addiction is no different.
Recognize We Have A Problem And Seek Help
Here are some ways to determine if you have found yourself without a “full house” and you may need help to reduce your “black out”.
First of all. ask yourself these questions:
Are you missing your house payment to bet on the game this week?
Are you charging your credit cards to their limits?
Are you cashing your paycheck at the casino?
If you answer YES to any of these questions you may be struggling with a Gambling Addiction.
We may have established that we have a gambling addiction so what do we do next?
How Do We Find Help
How do we find help, so as to not dig a deeper hole in relations to debt?
Well, here are a few suggestions that can help you find your “royal flush” and rise out of the hole we just dug.
Debt can be looked at as a wager, just as if you were betting on this week’s game. I’ll explain…
You have $1,000 this week and your house payment is due.
If you decide to place that bet on your favorite game this week your odds of winning are at best 50/50,. So if you take the $1,000 and pay your house payment, the odds that you can stay in your house another a month is 100%.
Looking at the odds which one sounds like a winning hand?
If you chose paying your house payment, you have just “doubled down” on the road to recovery.
A Gambling Addiction can throw a “joker” in your hand and strip you from those things that are most important in your life. Such as your marriage, children, stability, a job, self-worth, and last but not least ,confidence in your self.
With support, you can find your “ace”, by finding the winning combination from financial debt- to financial stability.
Steps to Overcome Debt Related to a Gambling Addiction
Here are some ways that you can help those odds when it comes to debt in regards to a Gambling Addiction.
Make the Choice to Stop Gambling
Make the conscious decision to stop gambling, and discuss your decision with your friends and family.
Know what triggers you have and avoid them at all costs. A Gambling Addiction is no different than any other addiction, but making this decision can help you recover your losses and gain your life back.
Only you can take control to make a change in your life and find financial stability again.
Cut Off the Ability to Have Access to Your Gambling Fund
If you find that you are charging your gambling escapades on credit cards, bookies, loan sharks, or taking out a home equity loan, then you need to find a way keep them out of reach.
Cut up any credit cards or close accounts that would enable your gambling.
Eliminate the impulse of gambling. Avoid using your ATM card and have a two-signature process on any withdrawals from the bank.
This will help to put a barrier between you and your money and will make it harder for you to give in to your gambling addiction.
Seek Professional Treatment
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has added Gambling Addiction to their new manual.
This opens ups avenues that make seeking help easier. Insurance companies are required to cover therapy for Gambling Addictions which is a win/win for you. Your therapist/counselor can help implement an action plan to help ensure avoidance to gambling. Your therapist/counselor posseses the tools you need, to help you become successful in your recovery.
Find a Support System
Just as professional counseling is a support to help beat the odds of relapsing, it is important to have support from your friends and family also.
Having a strong support system will improve your odds to be successful.
Let your support system know of your action plan to avoid gambling, and communicate your progress. We all want you to win against the odds of gambling.
Getting Your Finances Back In Order
Once you have established a game plan for seeking help, now it’s time to get your finances under control to pay or reduce your debt. Here are some suggestions of how to do just that:
List all of the Debts You Owe
This is an important step in knowing the impact that Gambling Addiction has had on your finances.
Make a list of all of your debtors, and keep track of what you owe.
This will help you know where you stand and help you develop a plan in order to repay them. Write them down in a notebook or a spreadsheet.
Keep track of the balance of each debt. This can help to get your finances paid down faster.
Each one you pay down is a win for you.
Once you have your list of who and what you owe, see what you are able to pay directly off.
Start by taking monies that you would have placed on the game, or in the slots, and instead, pay off a debtor.
This will help you start to eliminate your remaining debt. If you feel unable to do this, perhaps the next step should begin with a budget that will start reducing your debt.
Get a Budget
I’m sure we have heard this most of our lives about putting a budget together, but this time it can really save you.
Once you have your list of debts, (make sure your monthly living expenses are on your budget) you are able to prioritize them.
Know how much you have left over, so that you can pay down your debt, or even eliminate your debt. Having a budget and sticking to it can get you out of debt faster than you realize.
Paying Off High Interest Credit Cards
In debt 101, it is suggested you start paying down the highest interest credit cards first. Consumers don’t realize how much each year we pay in interest alone.
By taking the highest interest card, and paying as much as you can over the minimum payment, will reduce your debt faster. By only paying the minimum payment, you will stay stagnate and your debt will never decrease.
Make sure that your budget accounts for the minimum payments for all other credit cards that must be paid, while you’re paying the highest interest rate first.
Once you have paid off the first credit card, then combine the payment you were previously paying and apply that to the second highest rate credit card. This will help reduce the balance at a faster rate.
Continue to do this with the rest of the credit cards until you are debt free.
Obtaining a Loan
If your credit isn’t at rock bottom because of your Gambling Addiction, then it may be useful to apply for a bank loan to consolidate your debt.
You now have your expenses and list of debts and this can give the bank a better picture of what they are willing to loan you.
Combining all your debts into one loan will help save on interest and allows you to make one payment to one lender, rather than trying to juggle multiple lenders.
Be careful when applying for a debt consolidation loan. You do not want to free up credit cards that will give you the means and urge to gamble.
This would be a good point to close or cut up any cards or accounts that could give you access to your Gambling Addiction.
Stop Using, Start Living
I realize this is a lot of information.
However, by having a plan, creating a budget, and understanding your gambling addiction with your therapist/counselor, you now have the tools to become financially stable in the aftermath of a gambling addiction.
This is not the time to put on your “poker face” this is the time to “show all your cards”.
Here at Williamsville Wellness we have a motto : “Stop Using, Start Living”. We specialize in Gambling Addiction, and we are here to help find the best treatment plan for you.
All we ask is for you to “bet” on us to help you recover, and get your life back.
Written by: Dana ElzyLearn More
In recovery people often talk about sponsorship. This is someone who will guide you through your sobriety and the Twelve Steps to remain clean and sober. But, there is another aspect of recovery that is just as important; making friends!
For anyone in recovery, long term sobriety is strongly associated with the connections made in the rooms of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous.
Just like the workplace developing strong relationships adds to the quality of a person’s life.
So, the alcoholic or addict needs to build friendships to be content and lead a fulfilling life in sobriety.
John C., a member of Alcoholics anonymous developed a friendship with Bob M. They always went to the same meeting and one day they were talking, fishing!
John was saying that he used to fish before he starting drinking heavily. He would often have a plan to go to the beach and do some surf casting. But, just like a typical alcoholic, he would make big plans and never follow through.
Bob had a few more years sober and regularly went to the beach to fish. So, he said, “John we’re going fishing this weekend”.
Sure enough they made plans and headed out for a day of fishing on an early Saturday morning. Bob and John fished, talked recovery and enjoyed the sunshine on that beautiful Saturday.
It soon became a regular thing and a long lasting friendship developed!
Mary B. discussed the value of such a friendship. After leaving treatment she went to meetings on a regular basis. She did not have a vehicle. Therefore, she would bike to meetings and work. Yet, after a while she met a woman, named Melissa, who offered to pick her up and take her to meetings and work.
A friendship developed and they spent more time together.
Thus, they started enjoying each other’s company and would talk a lot about living sober. Melissa was not Mary’s sponsor. She was just another alcoholic helping out a friend.
One day, they were out eating lunch. Mary mentioned that she was having thoughts about wanting to relapse. Melissa looked at her and simply said, “I don’t want to see you do that”. The sincerity in this her eyes and the tone of her voice was so caring that the thought of drinking again did not seem appealing anymore.
Having Friends in Recovery Enhances a Person’s Life
Mary and Melissa’s friendship prevented a relapse and enhanced the quality of Mary’s life. They still hang out to this day and have lots of great laughs.
Mary later conveyed to me that she often remembers this friend and others when she is going through tough times. They motivate her to stay sober! Twelve Step Meetings offer a better life and a deep sense of fellowship. That is what recovery is all about.Learn More
When this former patient was 14 years old she drank for the first time. This experience would be the beginning to a life of poor choices and unhealthy living. The young teen quickly fell prey to alcohol.
Most would argue that experimenting is a part of growing up. But, when alcohol becomes addictive and a priority for a child in their developing years then he or she is sure to take a big hit on their well-being.
It is almost predictable with what will happen to those who at a young age allow drinking to be the main focus on one’s life. Drinking usually starts out as a once a week thing or even once a month.
Next, it’s every weekend and then before they know it drinking occurs whenever possible.
The next phase is a change in attitude. Parents or teachers usually are the first ones to notice this change.
Maybe a slip in grades or lack of effort towards basic things that used to be a “given”. For instance, cleaning a bedroom, waking up on time or taking care of one’s appearance.
Other things begin to change as well. A child’s behavior becomes riskier. They begin to push the limits and have a belief that they are invincible.
This feeling might also push them to try other substances. One former patient indicated that he never would have tried marijuana or cocaine but that the alcohol buzz gave him the courage to do something that normally in his right mind he never would have done.
Later on, in his years of abuse this would also be true for trying heroin for the first time.
So, for those who think experimenting with alcohol is a part of growing up, maybe it shouldn’t be. You just never know when something so innocent can turn into a life of misery!
For optimal success after addiction treatment, I was told several things.
” People in recovery must often make radical changes in their habits, relationships, environment and life in general. Think about what helped you most in treatment.
It is often the readiness and willingness to change; the improved communication via openness and honesty; the structure and routines of the treatment day; the encouragement and support; the changes in thoughts, beliefs, and movement towards your true values; the beginning of hope”.
How did I and many others continue this trend after receiving addiction treatment? These are the steps to take…
- Follow through on your scheduled aftercare appointments – with your counselor/therapist, psychiatrist or family doctor. Be honest with what has really gone on with you.
- Identify and practice new hobbies, interests, outlets, and activities. It’s important to activate new neural pathways. Consider music, art, social events, educational classes, etc.
- Avoid isolation by attending meetings, developing new supports, exploring spiritual outlets.
- Remain active. Go to the gym, walk daily, practice yoga, swim, hike, play golf, shoot hoops, etc.
- Pay attention to your emotions and what your body is telling you. Practice stress management. Let out your emotions in healthy way (talk to a friend, journal, cry)
- Continue to be open to self-discovery and be mindful of all-or-nothing thinking. Work on self-compassion and forgiveness.
- Continue to maintain communication with recovery supports, healthy relationships and family members.
- Continue to identify your strengths and discover new ones by getting out of your comfort zone in reasonable ways.
- Ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed, lost, helpless, and apathetic.
- Show gratitude and appreciation often. Help others, but balance it with self-car.