About Gambling Addiction

What is unique about gambling addiction?

Gambling is unique among all the addictions in that the gambling addict can engage in the addiction, and solve very real life problems created by the addiction. In simpler language, the gambler can place the next bet and win! In contrast, the alcoholic can 'take the edge' off last night's hangover, but cannot make the rent payment by taking the next drink. The gambler however, can place the next bet and win enough money to pay the rent (and more).

To state the obvious, in gambing, for every dollar won, there has to be at least a dollar lost. The gambler, in action, believes that the solution to the problem of losing is to simply figure out how to get on the winning side of the bet. Or, how to get more money to get on the winning side of the bet.

What is chasing?

Chasing is gambling to win back the money which was lost. The fact that the gambler can in fact win back lost money reinforces the belief that the 'next bet' will solve some or all of his/her problems. That is why it is so difficult for an addicted gambler to stop gambling. Their belief is: '..if I stop gambling, I lock in my losses, so I can't stop.'

What is the Dream World of the Gambler?

Simply put, the gambler is addicted to the "high" that they experience by imagining (fantasizing) placing the next bet and winning. By contrast, the alcoholic or the drug addict uses substances to alter how they feel. This phenomenon is referred to as the "obsession of the mind" which precedes the compulsion to use, or act out.

Because of this phenomena, successful treatment must be geared toward helping the gambler become conscious of their fantasy world and it's addictive quality, become willing to interrupt their fantasies, and then make a decision to do so.

Any treatment process that ignores or minimizes the mind of the gambler, and focuses primarily on interrupting the compulsion to gamble, has a very low chance of succeeding.