The National Library of Medicine states that there are 11 criterion by which a problem gambler can be identified, and he or she must possess at least five of those criterion to be classified as a problem gambler. It's easy to think of a gambling problem starting in a ritzy casino, with rows upon rows of loud slot machines, but the emergence of online gambling has lead to many lives being ruined from the comfort of a computer chair. Here are some ideas on fighting a digital age gambling addiction.
Gambling Problems Are Not Limited By Location
Wherever gambling takes place – an exotic casino or a laptop computer – the triggers that lead to addiction are still there: the adrenaline buzz of risking it all leads to high levels of activity in the brain and the release of the seratonin and dopamine hormones, making the players feel overly confident and aggressive, prone to taking risks they would not rationally take.
However, regardless of the environments, the results of addiction are the same: a loss of money, damage to social and personal relationships, lying, covering up evidence of the addiction and the losses incurred, and begging friends and family for money to play one more game, where the gambler will win all their money back and be able to put everything right.
Fighting A Gambling Addiction: Accountability
When dealing with any kind of addiction, accountability is key. A person looking to combat a gambling problem should tell as many people as possible about his or her struggles, and what he or she is doing to fight the addiction. The more people who know, the bigger the support network. That way, whenever the gambler is fighting the urge to play again, a friend, family member or trusted mental health care professional is always a call away. The more people who know about the problem, the more people who can check in on him or her to encourage the gambler through recovery, or help him or her out of a relapse.
Fighting A Gambling Addiction: Doing Something Else
Another method to beat a gambling addiction is to find other hobbies, other interests. They may not immediately provide the same spark and thrill, but the idea behind this method is to wean the gambler's brain off the idea that the only form of entertainment and recreation worth investing in that of gambling. Anything from learning to play a musical instrument to picking up a sport will help put gambling – and its potential dangers – into perspective.
Fighting A Gambling Addiction: Fighting Fire With Fire
For digital gambling, there are numerous forms of software and Internet browser add-ons that can curb the temptation to gamble. They work by blocking access to gambling and gaming websites outright, or by limiting the amount of time a player can be logged in. Once that time limit is reached, the software automatically logs the player out (regardless of winnings or losses), and will keep the gaming site off limits until a set period of time has elapsed.
If the gambler is enlisting the help of friends to stay accountable, some programs will e-mail those friends an activity log, to keep them in the know of their friends' gambling habits. The added scrutiny should, in theory, help a gambler gradually break away from any destructive and harmful gambling activity over time.