By Michael Russell
Gambling addiction is driven by a chemical and genetic disorder in the brain, causing a person to have compulsive behavior towards gambling. When a gambling addict gambles, they do so not to win money, but to satisfy the crippling urge inside their brain to take that chance or challenge. It satisfies their urge for excitement.
Gambling is a big money-making industry in the US. The gaming industry annually nets billions of dollars, due to people spending more money each year on legal gambling. The state governments in the US promote the state lotteries in order to collect taxes on this money. While gambling was illegal in the US sixty to seventy years ago, more and more states began legalizing gambling until now all but three states are the only ones that prohibit gambling.
Gambling between individuals has become popular with football money pots each week, where a person can bet on winners in the NFL games and college games. The baseball World Series each year has numerous pots with people trying to pick the winner. In fact, there are money pots for all the sporting events. Anyone wanting to take a chance to win some money can participate. Most of these pots are just for fun and a small change is required to enter into a money pot, so most people see it as a game – just for fun. However, there are those who take the game too far and become engulfed in gambling and these people are considered to be addicted.
There are horror stories that come out of Las Vegas that tell of people who go there and lose their house. These situations happen because of that urge that keeps people gambling and not knowing when to stop. They are always expecting this time it will happen – this time they will be a winner!
Unfortunately, the largest percentage of gamblers are those in the lower income brackets. In other words, those who can least afford to lose any money tend to be the ones who will gamble. Perhaps they are in need of more money and feel they can possibly acquire the money through gambling.
In states where the lotteries were set up, several ministers claim to have counseled individuals who have gone so far with their gambling that they have lost their homes, their savings, their children’s college education money, etc. These ministers say this is the dark side of the state lotteries that is not publicized.
A gambling addiction is characterized by an individual who is preoccupied with gambling. They spend their time figuring out how to get money to gamble with and what their next gambling adventure will be. They continue to gamble until they reach the point where they are betting some serious amounts of money, then feel depressed over the losses they have incurred. Their attempts to stop have failed and they develop feelings of guilt and helplessness. At this point, they start to borrow from others to pay off their gambling debts and some even commit fraud or theft to promote their addiction. Gambling addiction has broken up relationships and some have even resulted in job or career losses. A gambler will lie to others in an attempt to hide how serious their gambling problem really is.
A person with a gambling addiction first has to admit they have a problem before they can be helped. This is the first step on their road to recovery. They have to admit they are a compulsive gambler and have to recognize they cannot view gambling as just a game to have fun with.
The human brain has a built-in mechanism that causes a person to repeat things they are accustomed to doing and other things they enjoy doing. Eating and drinking become a habit with individuals and, of course, this is necessary to keep us alive, but there is also a stimulus in the brain that can cause compulsive actions. The treatment for gambling addicts is geared toward controlling that function in the brain that causes compulsive behavior. Through psychological treatment and group therapy, gambling addictions can be dealt with and controlled.
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