If the next bet was the one?…And if there was only one last shot before this slot machine releases its jackpot?…This would solve all the debts I have and help me to live the life I have always wanted to…
When it comes to gambling, addiction has sharp talons to keep you close and convince you that the more you play, the more you heighten your chances to win. But just as heroin or alcohol addictions, it is a sweet mirage that never comes true and leads to a dangerous downward spiral instead.
Before revealing those 3 elements that trap you into the spiral, let’s have a quick overview of what gambling addiction really is and the addiction treatment available to help you get rid of your gambling problems.
Just like a substance addiction, gambling addiction has very common signs and symptoms including:
Gambling is a wide practice that can take many forms and places:
The increased access to online versions in the past few years has made gambling addiction even more subtle.
Unlike most of the substance addictions that, after some time, affect your physical appearance, gambling addiction can be hidden until a financial point of no return. Said another way, you can keep pretending living a perfectly normal life until you are entirely broke. This is usually when everything blows, your family and friends learn about the terrible truth that you have a problem gambling, you are not able to pay your rent anymore and your debts have become totally unmanageable. In other words, this is the last moment to seek for help and support.
You know consequences are clearly financial, but not only that. It can affect your physical or mental health as well as relationships with people important to you. Gambling addiction, just like a substance use, damages social relationships (with family, friends, co-workers, etc.), creates school/work problems, crimes, depression and can even trigger suicidal ideations and attempts.
But what are those perverted elements that keeps you going on when everything around you displays warning lights and tells you to stop gambling?
It may seem obvious, but one of the main drivers of gambling addiction is the hope for profit. Every excessive gambler has started off by winning before the behavior became compulsive, therefore, a problem. As it happened once, maybe twice or three times, the hope for profit strengthened and became the leitmotiv to gamble.
It drives the behavior, narrows the thoughts, takes a high amount of time and money, but still fulfills you and lowers anxiety in some mysterious way. Hey, isn’t it the exact definition of addiction?!
The vicious side of the hope for profit shows up when you start losing more money than your gains… And more than you can afford. This one bet that could give you a heavenly life becomes the one bet that could pay all your debts and just bring you back to normal. And you keep going, you can’t stop gambling, but now, it is not 200$ that you need to be happy, it is 20’000$ to barely get you out of the dark. The American dream is slowly fading away and only remains the gambler and his losses.
Hope for profit is a very slippery road that once brought you to satisfaction, but most of the time leads you to loss. It is what keeps driving you though.
It is also part of the vicious circle of addiction. If you were sure the games were independent one from another, you would have less problems to stop gambling at any point no?
Thinking the games are linked makes you imagine: if it has been 20 rounds of odd numbers, it must be even on the 21st.
It is obviously related to the hope for profit. If one game influences the next ones, you can get a logic or even more, a plan, out of it and it is then reasonable to think that you may finally win and the profit will come at some defined point.
This is forgetting you are playing games of chance and that fate is the only thing in control.
That brings us to our third misbelief that keeps you trapped into the cage of gambling addiction.
In addition to the seeming control you have on the outcomes thanks to the perception of interdependency between games and the logic you imagine, the illusion of control has another form.
A common belief among gamblers is to think one can influence the game and the outcome by the way of playing. Tossing those dices stronger, lowering the lever at the right speed, always using the same coin for your scratch card… They are all illusions you serve yourself to comfort you in the fact that you do have an influence on the game and on the money you could make.
This illusion might seem a detail, but put everything together with our 2 previous points, it adds another bar to your cage; the pathological spiral goes on and on without you even notice how deep it digs you.
Those 3 convictions are deeply anchored in the excessive gambler’s mind.
In addition to “usual” addiction (like alcohol or opiate use) treatment tools as motivational approaches, relapse prevention program or comorbidity treatment, gambling addiction requires specific treatment ingredients to hope for a lasting recovery. Gambling disorder treatment and its recovery path include cognitive therapy to take care of the pathological misbeliefs we mentioned above, exclusion measures from game places (e.g. land-based casino) and treatment often requires a financial support and tailored plan.
But most importantly, it will need you to take the responsibility for your recovery and make the big step that will bring you to a new life.
So, don’t wait until it is too late to seek for help !
Call us and let’s work hand in hand to get you out of the self-constructed prison of addiction.