UNDERSTANDING THE MIND OF A GAMBLING ADDICT
Many people who gamble too much think in ways that aren't true. This is a bigger problem with gambling than with other addictions. Life makes us all more likely to gamble, even if we don't realise it, but it's up to us to decide if we'll become addicted. Every year, more people with gambling problems are admitted to Abhasa Luxury Rehabilitation Centre. In this article, we'll look at how gambling addicts think and try to figure out how to stop some of the things they do.
Gambling is a big business all over the world, and people who can't stop doing it are a big problem. We shouldn't be shocked by this. After all, life is a series of bets: your student loan at university is a bet on your future employability; your car, health, and life insurance are all bets; how you invest for your pension or other wealth plans is a bet; bankers and hedge funders are all gamblers; even religious belief is a straight bet, as the philosopher Blaise Pascal pointed out in a memorable way.
Losing your shirt on a horse every once in a while, seems pretty small. Just think about what the Bank of England and the Vatican could lose! Whether we like it or not, we all live in a society where betting is always going on, even if it is controlled and regulated.
It's not gambling itself that's the problem; it's how we feel about it and how some of us act in a compulsive way.
We all know that gambling is for fools. For most betting and chance games, it's clear that the house always wins, but millions of people still gamble too much every day, with terrible results. Even alcohol and heroin can kill if you take too much of them, but millions of people do that all the time. People do bad things when they are addicted. Any addict can always trick themselves into thinking they are different. To be addicted means to keep doing something you know will hurt you.
The problem starts when we find out, usually at a young age, that gambling is fun, no matter what form it takes, like casinos, horses, slot machines, the stock market, or cryptocurrencies.
If we get in the habit of making risky conclusions based on insufficient evidence and putting money on the outcome, we will probably end up with what modern psychiatrists call a "gambling disorder," but what the average person calls "being taken to the cleaners on a regular basis."
Problem gambling happens when wishful thinking turns into firm expectations for no good reason, to the point where the gambler expects to win all the time, feels lucky, chases losses, has false optimism, and feels invincible in general. This can only happen if the gambler has lost touch with the real world.
Think about going to a big football game or horse race. You feel excitement as the event approaches, real thrills as it happens, and, depending on how it turns out, either ecstasy or agony at the end. You must be feeling a lot of strong emotions right now. Is it fun and safe? Normal people agree with this and say that they "enjoy the ride." For a few minutes or hours, the brain receptors have been flooded with serotonin and dopamine, which are their favourite chemicals, but feelings quickly return to normal for most people.
Every time you gamble, you either win or lose. Most people are better at handling these situations than they think they are. Problem gamblers are not. When they win, their egos get so big that they think they are born lucky and will always win. This makes them gamble more, which is what anyone who thinks they are important would do.
Then, when something bad happens, it makes them angry, resentful, and careless, so they gamble more to try to get their money back. For them, losing is an anomaly, a message that doesn't say "it's easy" but rather "you're almost there, keep trying."
They think it's as silly to stop after a win or a loss as it is for an alcoholic to stop after one drink.
Most gambling addicts go through four stages: winning, losing, being desperate, and giving up. People who just bet on the Grand National, on the other hand, only go through one of the first two stages.
What makes a person who is addicted to gambling go through so much emotional pain? Biochemistry makes people physically dependent on drugs, but gambling doesn't put chemicals in the body, so how does biochemistry affect gamblers?
Behaviors that seek pleasure too much, like gambling, affect the same part of the brain that drugs do. The brain quickly learns to send the subconscious and even the conscious mind reminders that gambling is a good idea.
A recent study found that people who gamble too much have lower levels of the neurotransmitter Norepinephrine than people who don't gamble too much. People like this need more than the average amount of stimulation to wake up, pay attention, and get excited. When they lose money, it hurts less than it does for other people. So, they might be more likely to take risks. Add to this the fact that the brain of an addict wants more feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and others, and we're back to that old neuroscience where any kind of addictive behaviour can trick the brain into a pattern of false rewards and pleasures.
For treatment of problem gambling to work, it has to deal with the irrational thinking that comes with this addiction. At Abhasa Luxury Rehabilitation Centre, we challenge thoughts and expectations by asking questions like, "How much has gambling really cost you in terms of money, time, and feeling out of control?"
What's the truth about your life right now, and what are you going to do about it?
Then, we'll go through a process of looking at unrealistic thoughts (which often happen automatically, like "I feel lucky today, so I'll gamble") and coming up with a more realistic outlook by setting SMART goals (goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
Prepared by: Mr. Denny Prasad, Psychologist
LinkedIn Id: https://www.linkedin.com/in/denny-prasad-b55028124