Published August 24th, 2014

 

Don't fight gambling addiction by yourself. You need therapy.GAMBLING HELP ONLINE — The first time he stepped into the boat to hell, he had gambled only a few times.

Once in Las Vegas in his younger days, losing less than twenty dollars. Again on a cruise a few years after that and actually walking away with fifty dollars.

So Don, a former corporate executive, didn’t think twice about taking a trip to “the boat”.

He won $300 that day playing slot machines. A few days later, he stopped in again, but this time his luck with with him and he hit a large jackpot, netting him thousands.

“I was handing fistfuls of money to my wife, and I was saying, ‘Go, and they give you money,’ ” he said.

Like many people, the early wins begin the devastation of his life.

Within a few months, he had lost thousands. And thousands.

But it was the next six months that he began taking money out of savings, stocks, and finally, his retirement fund. And then off it was gone. Along with his wife and family.

He lost more than the average family earns in six years.

It was no longer just slots; he dabbled with blackjack; roulette and other games. The only things left was his house. And he almost lost that.

The addiction caused the “mutually agreed upon” separation from the company in which he had worked for more than half his life.

“Gambling consumes you. It takes over and becomes more important than anything or anyone.”

Families and spouses will try up to a point. They will tolerate certain amounts of time and money being wasted … but when their limits are tested, the world around addicts crumble – and crumble hard.

Gambling addicts are the first to tell you that they never believed in people being addicted to anything or so “out of control that their addiction took over”. “I always knew I was in control” he said … but the truth was he was NOT in control.

Addicts need help through both intervention and therapy. Addicts can also request a “self-ban” from casinos – in effect, telling the casino to forbid the person from entering their property. That is not the casino’s preferred way of handling the situation, but it is done.

“I don’t wish it on anyone.  But I understand now about addiction.  Until it hits you, and almost destroys you, you can never fully grasp its power.”

 

Published August 24th, 2014

Although gambling addiction affects less than 1 percent of all people, it is an issue taken very seriously by online casinos around the world.

A problem gambler is someone who feels this compulsive need to keep gambling despite the affects it is having on his/her life.

There are certain criteria that define a problem gambler, including, but not limited to, gambling until every dollar is gone, staying up all night playing slots online, gambling a longer period of time than planned, thinking about gambling causes you to lose sleep, you have tried to and can’t stop gambling and you leave bills unpaid and spend all your money on gambling.

Addiction gamblers don’t always gamble in regular methods, at casinos or lotteries, for example.  People with this problem will bet and gamble on anything, even meaningless bets with friends or coworkers.  This contradicts the idea that land-based and online casinos encourage and create problem gamblers.  If a casino is not online or nearby, a problem gambler will bet in other ways.

If a person is having trouble determining if they, or someone they know, has a gambling problem there are many tests online from various problem gambling institutes that they can accurately determine if they are affected.

Casinos and online casinos have also taken steps to identify and help problem gamblers, although they acknowledge the fact that most problem gamblers identify themselves first and seek help.  If you think that you or a loved one may have a gambling disorder, there are also support groups like Gamblers Anonymous.

Published August 24th, 2014

When was the last time you visited a casino in a excited frame of mind, only to leave the casino in a bad mood because the majority of the bets did not go your way? I think this is an all too common issue which faces many players from occasional gamblers to the high rollers. Depending on the nature of the loss, there are different methods of approaching this issue and dealing with it.

First and foremost, it is important to remember that gambling should be regarded as a recreational fun activity and should never be used as a means of making money. When visiting a casino, say to yourself; “I am here to have fun. I am not here to generate an income. Whether I win or lose, I will enjoy myself and have fun. This is my only goal”. If you visit a casino with the mindset that you need to make money and the bets don’t go your way, then you will fail to achieve your objective and as a result, you will experience feelings of anger and disappointment.

Second, set a monetary limit for yourself. In other words, decide on how much money you can afford to spend and are willing to lose everytime you visit a casino. Once you set a limit for yourself, never ever go over that limit, so that even if you lose it, then it will not significantly affect your lifestyle because it was money that you can afford to lose.

Third, try to take a minimum amount of money with you to the casino. If you have decided that you will only gamble $20 per visit, then perhaps you could take $20 and enough money to cover all of the other expenses that may come up. In other words, don’t take $500 to the casino when you only plan to gamble $20, and leave all ATM cards and credit cards at home.

Fourth, set a time limit for yourself. Decide on how often you will visit a casino and how much time you will spend gambling. This also serves as means by which to control one’s gambling habits. It is a well known fact that the more time a player spends gambling, the more likely he/she will lose. This is one of the reasons why most casinos don’t have clocks. If the player loses track of what time it is, then perhaps he/she will stay in the casino and play for a little while longer.

Fifth, avoid drinking alcohol while gambling. This is due to the fact that alcohol can grossly affect one’s sense of judgement and cause a person to gamble more heavily than he/she would have gambled otherwise. A couple of drinks to relax may be OK, but drinking to the point of not being able to think very clearly is not.

Sixth, think of other recreational activities that you can be involved in. This is not to say that you should give up gambling, but perhaps gambling could become just one of the many recreational activities that you could enjoy. So instead of going to the casino on Friday and Saturday, go to the casino on Friday and to the cinema on Saturday.

Finally, if you find that you are still unable to your gambling habits and they are starting to take control of your life, then you should definitely contact Gambler’s Anonymous and let them help you.

Published August 24th, 2014

Compulsive gambling has been called the “hidden disease,” as there are few overt signs of it in the workplace until the problem is in its most advanced stage. Astute observers may, however, pick up clues.

Extensive gambling can be time-consuming. Doing everything required to gain the information required to gamble intelligently, to place bets, follow the action, borrow money and make payments often has an impact that can be observed in the workplace. An educational pamphlet on compulsive gambling lists these indicators that may be observed at work:

Late to work (due to late night card game, casino venture, or bad night’s sleep worrying about gambling-related problems).

Long lunches (off-track betting, meeting bookmaker or loan shark or creditors).  Long lunches locked in the office (playing poker online).

Mysterious disappearance in the afternoon (typically at the track, off-track betting, afternoon card or dice game, or listening to sporting events).

Sick days taken right when they become available rather than allowed to accumulate (uses sick days to gamble).

Vacation used in isolated days rather than blocks.

Excessive use of rest room (reads sports pages or listens to radio in the rest room).

Excessive use of the telephone (calls to off-track betting, bookie, creditors, or to find money; calls from bookie or creditors).

Reads newspaper and sports literature at work (scratch sheet from race track, racing form, sporting news, etc.).

Operates office sports pool or paycheck pool (the person running these sometimes has a gambling problem).

Collects money from other employees for off-track betting or lottery (ostensibly does this as convenience for co-workers but actually so he or she can place bets).

Organizes trips to Atlantic City, Las Vegas, or other gambling junkets (may indicate familiarity through frequent visits).

Operates as bookmaker or runner for bookmaker (many bookmakers and runners are themselves compulsive gamblers and do this in order to gamble more).

Published August 24th, 2014

We take you through the first week that Arlene made the conscious decision to stop gambling.  This was a very emotional period where Arlene’s self esteem was at the lowest in her life.  She’s a single woman who was just about to turn thirty-six years old and her life was crumbling around her.  Her weakness was a poker game called Texas Holdem.  But if she couldn’t go to the casino, she was online playing the poker games on her screen.  And even though they had “free play”, that didn’t give her the thrill.

Arlene decided to share her story of how she made it through her first week as a non gambler.  Her goal was to reach out to others who also have a compulsive gambling addiction because she remembers the pain she went through.

From the first day until the seventh day, Arlene went through various emotional revelations that helped her to achieve her goals.  She was a special person with a good sense of humor.  Even through her self destructive period she always had a smile on her face.  For this reason alone people close to her never realized she had a problem gambling.

Arlene easily made it through her first day because she had already depleted her checking and savings accounts.  She had also maxed out her credit cards.  She fortunately would have to wait three more days till pay day before she could gamble again.  In the past she borrowed from friends and then would have to give them half her pay check to pay them back.  She remembers the pain she was in with no one she could tell or talked to.  She was afraid her family and friends would not understand.  She didn’t even understand how this happened to her.  She decided to go online and find help.  She tried a year earlier Gamblers Anonymous, but it was something that she could not relate to.  She found a website.  She liked the name of the site and decided to give it a try.

She purchased a self help manual and a year membership to the chat room.  Her first thought was “How can something under fifty dollars really help a person who has lost thousands of dollars gambling in one year?”     Then she thought maybe she shouldn’t spend any money right now.   Her mind was playing tricks with her.  During this time she was confused, had major amounts of guilt for losing so much money and her self esteem was at her lowest.  She decided to make the investment in herself.  This was her justification for the purchase.  She eagerly read the manual.  A whole new world opened up for her.

In the chat room she met others who could relate to her and help her understand what she was going through.  Each and every day she would follow the manual and pop in and out of the chat room.  There were times where the chat room was quiet, so she left messages on the tag board of when she would be chatting and other members joined in.

As each day passed during Arlene’s first week, she noticed changes in your behavior. For the first time she was taking it one day at a time.  She was planning for her future and starting to realize she could live with out gambling.  She admitted to people that she was contemplating suicide because she felt there was no way out.  She once told me she wouldn’t mind living in a cave as long as her life was peaceful.  Her self destructive behavior and low self esteem was taking its toll on Arlene.

The one other thing that kept Arlene from going back to gambling was the pain she was in and finally realized she can now move forward with an anticipated positive future.

Some people have close friends they can talk to.  What ever it takes to share what you are feeling will speed your recovery.  It’s going to take time to talk about how you feel.  Listening to others that have walked in your shoes will help you start the healing process.

Published August 24th, 2014

To people who don’t gamble, or more so to normal gamblers, the thought that they will progress to compulsive gamblers is ridiculous. The start of compulsive gambling may be incited by situations or circumstance. But the conditions are real.

What’s the similarity between pathological gambling and chemical dependency?

The first distinct similarity is the inability to take control or stop the addiction. The denials to the addiction accompanied by severe depression are also similarities. Both diseases are progressive in nature and goes through similar stages.

The first stage being the “chase”, looking for that high or win. The use of the addiction to numb the pain brought about by problems. The pathological gambler and a drug or alcohol dependent person are preoccupied with nothing else except their addiction. They look for immediate gratification and have very low self-esteem.

That “chase” usually manifests more in physical casinos, with the camaraderie of the poker tables and the “us against them” excitement when players win a poker hand.

Pathological gambling not like chemical addiction is a disease not easily noticeable. There are a lot of indicators that would identify a chemically dependent person. But a gambler can exist normally for long periods of time. The large debt that a gambler can incur requires attention.

Pathological gamblers require crisis counseling at the start of their treatment, mainly because pathological gamblers have a higher suicide rate than persons addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Is the level of addiction for all types of gambling the same?

Forms of gambling that give immediate gratification are the worst kind. The slot machine and video are prime examples of these. The use of the instant gratification and effective reinforcement, gamblers that play these machines often progress into pathological gamblers more often than gamblers that play other games.

The time it takes to go from the first bet to a chronic addiction is shortest for this form of gambling. Before it would take many years before a person would be considered “sick” gambling in races, etc.  Nowadays, it is fairly common for a person to be addicted to a slot machine or video poker with two to three years.

Is pathological gambling biological in nature?

Recent findings would indicate that pathological gambling is a dependency quite similar to a chemical dependency. A study by a psychiatrist Alec Roy, M.D. formerly of the NIAAA showed that compulsive gamblers have low levels of nor epinephrine compared to normal gamblers.

The chemical is secreted from the brain when stressed, aroused or excited. A pathological gambler engages in his addiction to raise the levels of nor epinephrine.

The findings reinforce the assertion of Dr. Henry Lesieur that pathological gamblers are “thrill seekers” who gamble for the excitement brought about by the game and not the pursuit of money.

Published August 24th, 2014

Sally realized that her husband needed help with his addiction to gambling.  But she didn’t realize it until they were forced to sell the house, and move in with her mother.

It was the stuff of dreams when Sally and Denver (not their real names) built their own home – valued at over $1 million – but with Denver flushing money away in the casino every night, they had no choice but to sell to meet their debts.

It’s an all-too-familiar story, played out all over the world, but for this young couple and their two young daughters it brought their lives crashing down around them.

Denver started, like many before him, with a little flutter on the horses. He did well, moving swiftly into what compulsive gamblers call the “winning phase”. But it soon reached a point when his adrenalin would not pump unless he was putting large amounts on a horse to win.

The “losing phase” now kicked in and, to recoup his losses, Denver would move on to the casino at 5pm and gamble until 3am, hoping for a quick-fix.

Those became all the more rare and Denver often found himself buying “a gold chain on his credit card and pawning it for gambling money”.

This would give him the “ammunition to indulge in big-shottism”, where he could stroll into the casino and be a big shot on the tables. But then came the days when Denver would claim the deposit on soft drink bottles just to put bread on the table. His addiction was way out of control and the family was sinking fast.

He was contemplating stealing money and having suicidal thoughts. There were daily arguments with Sally and their oldest daughter, 16, who was threatening to run away from home.

With the sale of the house, Sally begged her husband to seek help. Big Shot Denver, still swollen with pride and arrogance, flatly refused.

It took a work colleague to confront him and insist that he take Denver to Gamblers Anonymous for him to relent.

Two years of rehabilitation has changed it all around. Denver faced up to his demon and is rebuilding his – and his family’s – life. It’s a constant struggle but, with the support of his wife and fellow GA members, it is one which he – for the moment at least – is winning.

Don’t under estimate the power of gambling vices like poker or online slot machines — they can take control of every aspect of your life.

Published August 24th, 2014

Access to gambling has caused more and more people to experiment, and become hooked on gambling than ever before in history of the US.  And before I continue, I want to be clear – playing the lottery is also gambling — and an addiction to the lottery can be as devastating as an addition to the casinos.

Addictions can manifest in different ways.  Not all gamblers experience the addiction the same or exhibit the problem in the same way, just as alcoholics can hide or “shield” their problems from those around them.

Besides lottery addictions (which are found more in females than males), gamblers typically get addicted to one aspect of gambling: slot machines, roulette and poker being the big three.

Having the problem, doesn’t mean addicts can’t function.  Many people can have serious gambling addictions but still maintain employment and give the aura that “everything is fine”. But the sad truth is, being able to put on this “happy front” only means that the addict hasn’t hit rock bottom.  However, all gambling addicts that do seek treatment first – will find that bottom.

One thing to notice is when your friends or associates stop socializing, and become isolated — they are either at the casino, or locked away from everyone.  That should give a warning to check into your friend further.

Are they unusually interested in sporting scores — even though you know they were never really big into following sporting teams?  Do they seem unusually happy or depressed after reading the scores?  Addicts, and those on their way, tend to have major mood swings based on whether they are “winning or losing”.

What about their personal finance?  Do they borrow small amounts of money but never pay back?  Are the requests for money increasing in frequency or amounts?  Then all of a sudden, the seem to have “money to burn” but never pay back those who loaned money.

Or they griping or complaining too much that they are “underpaid” at work?  That others “in their fields make more” and they should make more also?  This in itself is not fully indicative of gambling addictions — but taken in context with other observations can help to you spot the problem.

Lying and stealing is another (bad) clue to a gambling addiction.  If caught or suspected, the addict will fabricate amazing stories, intricate and believable.  All the while, you find small but expensive items missing from your home, desk, etc.

Employers also need to be aware of what their employee is doing.  An employee with access to company funds or assets can get themselves into a situation worse than gambling addictions — they can be jailed for stealing from the company.  Employers should also be concerned when an employee wants all calls “screened” — most likely, this is because he or she is getting calls from bill collectors and payday loan services.

If you hear that you friend has been selling personal belongings, when you never hear that before, you should be concerned.  There is a good chance that belongings were sold to pay (or cover) gambling bets.

Taken as a whole, if you begin to notice these common symptoms, you should investigate further.  If your fear is proven to be valid, you must get this person into some type of gambling program help.

Without help, a gambling addiction leads to the same dark place as drug or alcohol addictions — eventually having their lives taken over the the “drug” of choice.

Most gamblers with bad addictions wind up jobless, and in the worst cases, homeless if their addiction is allowed to go unchecked for too long.  Studies have shown that people with gambling addictions are more prone to illness and frequent “call-ins” or days absent, because they stop taking care of their health.

For more information on gambling addiction talk to your family doctor or look on the internet for the gamblers anonymous web site, or from one of the many internet web sites dedicated to helping gambling addicts to locate professional help in their area.

Published August 24th, 2014

It is easy for those younger among us to get hooked on the magic pull of gambling.   “Recreation”: this seems to be the first reason of most young people – thinking that Gambling is a recreation and there is no danger. This is brought about by peer pressure but curiosity is often a factor. There is nothing wrong in using gambling or card games as entertainment or thrill games, but this would not be a good step to take.

It is similar to walking along the edge of a cliff for the thrill that it gives you — only to walk to close and slip beyond control.

We have to remind ourselves that no matter how big or small an addiction is, it would always start with a simple step.  In this case, that single step is going out the door to “gamble”. For youngsters, especially for students, this is a distraction. It would definitely be a problem as soon as a youth engages in it for the first few times and gets addicted.  Usually the addictions occurs after a “win” of some type — maybe large or maybe small.  But it gives that first “taste”.

For parents this would be a hurdle in trying to bring up children to be the best people – with the happiest lives and families.

Young as they are, they are exposed to factors that would definitely lead them to the pitfalls of gambling. There would be very negative effects that could lead to worse results for your son or daughter. As a guardian, you have to make it a point to be there and not only give simple words of advice to your child but be there to open his or her eyes on what are the pros and cons of being into gambling.

It may lead to your child’s low grades and worst to dropping subjects or dropping out of school completely. Of course, this is not what you have worked for – it may lead to further problems that would not only worsen the case of your youngster as an individual but as a (up to now) productive member of the society.

Another role to consider: what are the possibilities after your child falls to the spell of “free money”? You would have to know what to do and where to seek help if that becomes the reality.

Addiction to gambling is a very bad influence.  It may be that tough for you as a parent, but with your sincerity to guide your child to straighten his young and long life ahead, and the proper knowledge and support, there is hope for gambling addictions.