Gambling has always been a fun activity. To some players, however, it becomes an obsessive compulsion. Instead of playing for the thrill of betting or for the love of the casino atmosphere, they play because they cannot stop. This is compulsive gambling.
Symptoms of Compulsive Gambling
When players cannot stop UK slots online gambling, or when they keep playing, despite losing, they have a problem. The same applies if trying to control the betting results in depression, anger, or insomnia. However, the most obvious symptoms of the behavior are lying to get money, hiding the habit from loved ones, resorting to theft or crime for money, and ruining careers or relationships as a result of reckless betting.
Stages of Compulsive Gambling
In the first stage, players win more than they lose at a casino, usually for a few years, and become confident. As a result, they enter the second stage – losing. Yet despite losing more than they win, the players keep betting, believing they can win again. They even borrow and lie to get money.
In stage three, the lies, compulsive habit, and debt take their toll. The players become angry, engage in crime, and ruin close relationships. Shortly after, they slip into despair, the fourth stage, and become suicidal or go to jail. And having hit rock bottom, they enter the final stage, which is seeking help.
How to Avoid or Control Compulsive Gambling
Although its hard to control, addicting behavior is avoidable if one manages the following four things: money, betting, time, and thoughts. Affected players can restrict how much money or time they spend in a casino and how many games they play. Or, they can spend their time doing something else. But for this happen, they must first change their thinking.
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Obsessive-compulsive behaviors distort the thoughts and perceptions of players. For instance, they keep betting, despite losing, yet they consider the loses not their fault. Or, they expect their lucky charms to alter a game although these charms have no effect. Cognitive behavioral therapy shows the folly of such thinking and then corrects it.
While cognitive therapy tackles the perceptions resulting from obsessive behavior, psychotherapy confronts the emotional triggers causing it. These could be loneliness, overconfidence, stress, or failed relationships.
Obsessive players lie to, steal from, and manipulate family and friends. Over time, this ruins their relationships, leaving them isolated and lonely. However, without these relationships, which act as a support mechanism, they relapse back to compulsive behavior. For this reason, family therapy mends the broken relationship between the players and their loved ones.
Peer Support Groups
Peer support groups comprising of affected players provide much-needed support, encouragement, and empathy to each other. And although many exist, the best known such group is Gamblers Anonymous.
Losing money, relationships, and career leaves an affected player depressed and anxious. And besides causing insomnia, these two emotions make an individual want to engage in more betting as an escape mechanism. To manage them, and to break the cycle of gambling, an affected individual takes anti-depressants.
Even though it affects millions of players, compulsive gambling is still manageable. What matters is identifying the symptoms and stages of addiction early. Also important are the various therapies and prescription drugs that address the triggers and effects of the excess betting.