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 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