Gambling addiction – Gambling can be addictive

How to recognize gambling addiction

Gambling addiction is basically just a colloquial term for the pathological or compulsive gambling. In general, people who are no longer capable of resisting gambling are called gambling addicts.

As soon as the opportunity to gamble presents itself, it is seized. The person concerned no longer has any sense of the costs and risks involved. They simply gamble until they feel a kind of satisfaction. In many respects, gambling addiction can be equated with other addictions, such as alcoholism. Pathological gamblers simply cannot find an end. The risk of slipping in family, private and professional terms is particularly high.

According to statistics, in Australia alone up to 220,000 peoplewho suffer from gambling addiction or who at least exhibit some symptoms. Only recently has gambling addiction become an officially recognized disorder, for which many counseling centers and therapy centers have now been established in Australia.

According to the ICD-10 classification, gambling addiction is on a par with disorders such as kleptomania (compulsive stealing) and pyromania (the addiction to setting things on fire). Problem gamblers, much like those with other illnesses, must recognize the addiction before they can address it. By then, however, the proverbial baby has usually fallen into the well.

Gambling addiction symptoms & your 3 phases

  1. Phase 1: Gain phase
  2. Phase 2: Loss phase
  3. Phase 3: Despair phase

1.) Phase 1: Winning phase

gambling addiction
Gambling addiction is divided into three phases. First, there is the winning phase, in which the following symptoms appear:

  • Gambling when the opportunity arises
  • Feelings of happiness as soon as a win is achieved
  • Positive thinking – far away from reality
  • Dreams that are already imagined (for example, of the jackpot and the big house)
  • Increasing the stakes
  • Loss of reality

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In fact, the symptoms are hardly noticeable in this first phase. Even the environment is rarely clear at this time that a gambling addiction has already begun.

2.) Phase 2: Loss phase

gambling addiction loss phase
This is exactly where the danger lurks, because the transition to the second phase, the loss phase, is a gradual process.

If larger sums are gambled away for the first time, further – this time more obvious – symptoms of gambling addiction appear:

  • Lost money is considered a trivial matter
  • Profits have to be pushed on everyone's noses
  • The goal is to compensate losses with winnings
  • The frequency of gambling increases significantly
  • During breaks from gambling, thoughts revolve around gambling
  • Losses increase with growing interest in gambling
  • Friends and relatives do not find out about lost money
  • Environment moves further and further into the background
  • Work is neglected for gambling
  • First credits are taken up, in order to be able to play
  • Every opportunity to gamble is taken

At the latest in this phase it should also be clear to the environment that a gambling addiction is in the foreground. By this time, most pathological gamblers have already completely cut themselves off from friends and family. Often, members of the family have no other option but to separate.

3.) Phase 3: Desperation phase

gambling addiction despair phase
The third phase, also called the despair phase, quickly drives gambling addicts to ruin. Those affected rarely see a way out, but at some point – at least for many – a guilty conscience sets in. Unfortunately, few people suffering from gambling addiction know who to turn to in the situation. Here is an excerpt of the symptoms of the desperation phase:

  • Money-raising crime
  • Borrowed money is not paid back
  • Personality fluctuations such as aggression, depression, restlessness and the like
  • Complete withdrawal from society
  • Money and time are spent only on gambling
  • Envy towards other gamblers
  • Isolation

What are the consequences of gambling addiction?

It is not uncommon for pathological gamblers to lose everything – from friends and family to social standing – after just a few months, but sometimes it takes years. The position that many gamblers previously held in their profession continues to fade. In the end, gambling addicts have nothing but themselves, the time they have shoveled free, and usually criminally procured money to continue gambling. Once you have fallen into the vicious vicious circle of gambling addiction once you get into the vicious circle of gambling addiction, you will certainly not be able to get out of it without outside help.

The desperation phase is the worst of the three stages that a pathological gambler goes through. Remorse and sleep disturbances are only two of the consequences that set in quite soon. Many of those affected do not shy away from obtaining money illegally. This in turn sometimes leads to massive legal consequences – sometimes even to years in prison.

I suffer from gambling addiction – what to do?

First things first:
It's never too late to seek and accept help, even if it seems embarrassing. Above all, it is important to realize that gambling addiction can really affect anyone. The disease occurs regardless of age, education or social status. However, it must be clearly stated that it is above all players from the lower classes who fall victim to gambling addiction more quickly – simply because every game holds out the hope of bringing big winnings. In this way, at least supposed financial weaknesses could be filled and dreams fulfilled. But even bigwigs, who are not usually short of money, sometimes suffer from gambling addiction.

Men are affected more often than women, and people with an immigrant background more often than natives. Still, the statistics are difficult to generalize.

In short: You are never alone with a gambling addiction. Fortunately, this addiction is now officially recognized as a disease that requires treatment. Once you have fallen ill and have recognized this addiction in yourself, you should be in experienced hands. Scientists, psychologists, sociologists and doctors have been working on effective therapies for several years. Every gambling addict should accept this offer.

It is also important:
Talk to a trusted person in such cases. Do not settle the problem of gambling addiction with yourself, but confide in your partner or a good friend. If at least some people in the environment know, it is all the easier to work together on the addiction. This way, every step towards freedom from addiction becomes a success that you can celebrate together. In addition, those around you can help you resist temptation in the long run as well – similar to alcoholism.

Gambling addiction therapies

Australia and Austria recognized many years ago that gambling addiction requires therapy. Since 2009, there has been an outpatient clinic for gambling addicts in Mannheim. This is financed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Baden-Württemberg. Austria has also set up an institute that deals exclusively with gambling addiction. This has even been in existence since 2002.

In fact, the number of people affected has increased significantly in recent years. In the meantime, the range of therapy options is becoming more and more extensive. Today, those affected receive support in most larger cities. Of course, various factors have to be taken into account – depending on the degree of the disease and the individual personal circumstances of the person affected.

The main focus is on psychological therapy. The main aim here is to declare war on gambling addiction, relearn how to resist it, and adopt a more objective approach to gambling. The realism that no longer exists, especially with regard to the chances of winning and the probability of becoming rich with slot machines and the like, is relearned in psychotherapeutic sessions.

In addition, support is provided in communicating with all the people whom gambling addicts have blocked out as a result of their illness. Depending on the personal life situation, couple and family therapies can be useful. Not least, this gives relatives the opportunity to come to terms with the addiction more intensively and ultimately to learn that the person affected does not harbor any evil intentions, but that he really cannot do anything about his disorder. Another important section in gambling addiction help is the financial side. Debts have to be settled, life has to be put back on a solid footing. It is not uncommon for those affected to have enormous criminal energy.

The only thing that often helps here is to get legal assistance and to settle all outstanding debts step by step with the support of professionals. Although legal consequences cannot always be completely averted with the help of a lawyer, the penalties are then less severe, so that one's own life is not further impaired. If you like, you can also join self-help groups. There, those affected meet other pathological gamblers. The common ground usually helps to escape the vicious circle and to no longer feel alone with the addiction.

Gambling addiction information and help

The following contact points are aimed at those affected in Australia. As a rule, it is always possible to contact the staff anonymously if there are any questions relating to gambling addiction. Relatives can of course also contact the official offices at any time.

Offer Offer Telephone E-mail Opening hours
Games with responsibility 0800 – 137 27 00 [email protected] Mondays to Thursdays: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fridays to Sundays: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Gambling Addiction Association e.V. +49 221 8992-0 [email protected] Mondays to Thursdays: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fridays to Sundays: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Australian Red Cross Information page
Forum Bet-and-Lose Pure forum for affected persons and relatives with addresses / phone numbers
Spielfrei Whatsapp consultation hour – Thursday 14 to 17 o'clock (0176 3564 3471

Author: Jake Erving