The history of gambling stretches back thousands of years – human beings have always been drawn to the allure of predicting the unpredictable and placing something of value on the outcomes. This offers rather disconcerting parallels between the games of chance that were played in ancient times to the modern multi-billion-dollar gambling activities that tens of millions of people around the world play today. Needless to say, there have always been varying opinions on the matter in terms of morality and even legality. Still, the topic of discussion here is something that is of great concern regardless of where you may lean – that is, gambling addiction.
What is Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction is classified as a mental health condition and this is simply because it bears similarities to other forms of addiction such as drug addiction as well as impulse-control disorders like pyromania or even kleptomania. That said, it can happen to anyone from any walk of life and just like all other forms of mental health disorders, it has the potential to significantly impact the life of the addicts themselves as well their friends, family, and communities.
While many people may consider the act of gambling itself to be a problem, it is important to acknowledge that this is not entirely true as even gambling addicts themselves are quite different. In essence, gambling addiction can be further divided into more distinct categories as follows:
Compulsive gamblers are gambling addicts who have no control over their gambling impulses even when they are fully aware of the negative consequences that may be spawned from such actions. They will continue to play whether they are broke or flush and even whether they win or lose and will continue to do so even when they know that they cannot afford to lose.
Unlike the full-blown gambling addict or compulsive gambler, binge gamblers often appear to be in control of the addiction most of the time – they might even be able to go for several weeks or even months without gambling or exhibiting the signs of gambling addiction. However, their compulsive gambling behaviors tend to manifest once they start, even if it’s once in a blue moon.
In essence, a problem gambler is one who is not totally out of control. Still, by definition, problem gambling is any form of gambling activity that interrupts an individual’s normal life. This may be manifested in the form of lies, chasing losses, and continuing to gamble despite the consequences.
How to Fight Gambling Addiction
Fighting gambling addiction in this day and age is proving to be a serious challenge especially because of how easy it is to access gambling services and products. This does not mean that it is a lost course but only implies that since the problem is evolving, we also need to adopt modern or new-age methods of dealing with it. So, how do we go about it?
Stick to the Best (Regulated) Gaming Platforms
It is safe to say that a huge percentage of gambling addicts develop the problem on online gambling sites and in most cases, it is usually at the hands of unregulated online gaming operators. So, this means the best option would be to stick to fair and regulated casinos that take consumers protection seriously.
Gambling is widely considered to be a form of entertainment and therefore instead of trying to completely get rid of it (which is impossible) to keep people from ever having access to it in the first place, it would be better to shift the focus on to regulating the industry so that gamblers have access to safer sites.
Thankfully, more regulators and operators are beginning to take consumer protection very seriously. The regulators are pushing the fight through strict rules and regulations as well as the introduction of such initiatives as self-exclusion systems. The best gaming sites will always strive to comply with these and will be able to better protect their customers. In fact, many of the operators use innovative ways of identifying potential problem gamblers and may even offer customization options that allow players to set limits on the time and money they spend on the gaming platforms.
Building a Great Support System
An effective support system is perhaps the best option for any gambling addict, and this is especially because support systems either involve or are associated to most, if not all, of the existing remedies of gambling addiction.
Having a good support system means that one has a trustworthy individual they can turn to. This is particularly important because these trusted people can help you to relinquish your finances, or even help you to stay busy to overcome the impulse to gamble. Even in the case that you do not have a support network, there is always room to make new friends which, if you are lucky, may be people that may have survived the same ordeal.
Another great option for individuals is joining support groups. Self-help groups such as Gambler’s Anonymous which is a 12-step program modeled off of Alcoholics Anonymous that uses many of the same techniques have been found to be very effective in helping gambling addicts. Besides that, there is always the option of individual therapy that gamblers can opt for. There are so many organizations and non-profit agencies working round the clock to ensure that gambling addicts recover and are protected from any other form of gaming-related harm.
Is That All It Takes?
Well, as much as there are a number of ways that have been recommended for dealing with gambling addiction, there is one thing that we all agree on – the solution to gambling addiction requires a collective effort. This means that both the individuals, their families, and friends, as well as the authorities and regulators, have to contribute. It is important to acknowledge that gambling is indeed here to stay and it still has a lot to offer in terms of revenue and job creation. For this reason, there need to be more efforts when it comes to dealing with gambling-related harm to make the industry safer for both the consumers and the operators.