It’s Not Monopoly:
As anyone who has played Monopoly can tell you, gambling is fun. There’s the suspense of not knowing what will come with the next roll of the dice, there is the excitement of betting, and, best of all, there is the gratification when luck is in your favor, and you win, piling up cash on your side of the table. It’s fun with Monopoly money, but when you use real money, there is an even greater “edge” to the experience of gambling. When you are gambling with real money, that is “where the rubber meets the road.”
It’s for the Thrill:
Gambling with the role of the dice when you are playing Monopoly is fun, a harmless way to spend some time with family or friends. Gambling with real money, however, entirely changes the character of the activity: If you win, you have money to spend, to throw away on whatever you want because you didn’t have to work hard to earn it. If you lose, however, that’s another story: first of all, cash that you once had is gone out of your pocket, but, even more serious, is what that cash might have, should have, been spent on, paying the rent or making the house payment, making the car payment, credit card payments, necessary personal expenses for you and your family, maybe even your hotel room for the casino where you are gambling.
You Can’t Afford to Lose!
Casual gambling with small amounts of money that you can afford to lose is a harmless pastime, but gambling with money that you can’t afford to lose, and gambling large amounts of money is serious business. For many people gambling is not just a pastime, it is an addiction. Simply put, an addiction is some form of behavior that is obsessive, seemingly out of your direct, conscious control. Like other serious addictions, such as alcohol or drugs, addiction to gambling can seriously upset, even potentially, ruin your life.
Impulses Control You:
It may be called gambling addiction, compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or gambling disorder, but the gambling addiction is a serious matter that often has significant consequences. Basically, the gambling addiction is what is called an “impulse disorder.” We all have impulses to do things at one time or another, but often restrain them because we realize they may be impractical or lead to undesirable consequences. With impulse disorders, there is no internal control, nothing inside the mind that says, “Don’t do that.” With impulse disorders, even when the voice inside says, “Don’t do that,” it is ignored and the person follows the impulse. In gambling disorder, the impulse is to wager, to bet, to believe that the outcome with be positive so strongly that you cannot withstand the need to make the bet. You have a compulsion to do it regardless of the consequences.
Bet it all!
With the impulse or compulsion to gamble, your personal circumstances become irrelevant. You may have just lost everything in a previous bet. You may have the rent money in your pocket. You may have money in the bank. You may not have a cent to your name except the last dollar that you are about to bet. It doesn’t matter what your situation is, with the gambling addiction or compulsion, you feel that you just have to make that bet.
You Know You Will Lose in the End!
The interesting thing is that, with gambling addiction, just like with alcoholism or drug addiction, you know what the final end result will be. With alcohol addiction, of course, the end result is alcoholism. With drug use, it is drug addiction. Both of these results are destructive to your health and potentially fatal. With gambling addiction, because in gambling, there are always the odds to consider, in the end, in all gambling situations, the odds are against the gambler. If they weren’t against the gambler and in favor of the “house” or whoever is running the gambling operation, then they would just give their money away. Their purpose in running the gambling operation is to make money, and they only make money if the gambler loses more than he or she wins. Thus, in the end, all gamblers know that, in the final analysis, they will end up losing. But, like the alcoholic or drug addict, the gambling addict can’t stop himself despite the fact that he or she knows the consequences.
Could You Go “Cold Turkey”?
Also, like the alcoholic or drug addict, the gambling addict always thinks, just one more, just one more drink and I’ll quit, just one more “fix,” and I go into treatment. For the gambling addict, however, at the end of the “just one more time” attitude is the belief that their luck will turn, they will win and they will become rich, or make up for all of their losses, or some other illusion that impels their impulses. For the gambling addict, the belief and illusion that their bad luck will change never go away. Even at the end of a long stream of “bad luck,” they maintain a belief that, the next roll of the dice, the next turn of the card, the next spin of the wheel, the next horse they bet on, will trigger that magic change of luck.
Help is Waiting!
Thus, it can be seen that gambling addiction is a complex mental condition in which a number of factors are at work in motivating the behavior. It is not a simple matter of just making your mind up to stop gambling, although for a few people, like some people can make up their mind up to stop smoking “cold turkey” and succeed, most don’t. The actual act of gambling is the end result of a number of beliefs, illusions, impulses, and motivations that all go together to make the decision to bet that money a foregone conclusion. That is why treatment for gambling addiction must entail the discovery of the system of beliefs, illusions, impulses, and motivations behind the compulsive gambling behavior as the first steps in eradicating the addiction. That is why psychological counseling, like that offered by Dr. Blair, can be effective because its purpose is not just to stop the bet, but to eradicate the desire to make the bet. Psychological counseling can provide a powerful and effective way of encountering and ending the addiction to gamble.