A pinball game here and there, throwing a few euros into the one-armed bandit - if you only pass the time by gambling now and then, you don't have to worry about falling prey to gambling addiction. As long as gambling serves the purpose of entertainment, everything is in the green. Fortunately, the human body signals very clearly when a kind of addiction sets in. Namely, when the person concerned experiences psychological and physical symptoms once the gaming session is suspended. A person with normal gambling behaviour can cope with this without any problems. For people at risk of addiction, this immediately affects their mood. But what is gambling addiction and when do you have to start worrying? We explain.
Gambling addiction and how it manifests itself
Those who do not know what to make of the term "gambling addiction" must sit up and take notice at the latest when they learn that gambling addiction is actually a mental disorder.
People who are affected by it feel a psychological and physical urge that they simply cannot resist. What initially served only as entertainment gradually or suddenly degenerates into clear addictive behaviour. It does not matter whether the person concerned plays for money or is addicted to modern gaming, e.g. on the Playstation.
Both types of game always offer a reward at the end, and people at risk of addiction can very quickly become dependent on it. A so-called score is no less tempting than the cash that trickles out of the machine on a lucky streak. Both increase self-esteem and enrich the body and mind with feelings of happiness. A feeling that the person wants and needs to feel over and over again. When this craving intensifies and the person loses control, it is called gambling addiction.
Clear signs of a gambling addiction are inner restlessness, an uncontrollable urge and a daily routine that only revolves around how to indulge in the addiction again as quickly as possible. If you try to stop the person from gambling, you have to reckon with outbursts of rage.
It becomes particularly dangerous when it comes to money games. In this case, the inhibition threshold also drops in terms of crime. In order to be able to finance the next game, pretty much any means will do. Then, at the latest, one has to deal with a tangible gambling addiction that has to be treated professionally.
How does addiction develop and are there particularly vulnerable groups of people?
A gambling addiction has a lot to do with control and self-control. Rational people notice very quickly when situations get out of hand and know how to regulate themselves. A certain instability is therefore required for a gambling addiction to develop. Weak-willed people are very quickly sucked into the addiction spiral. People whose professional life does not exactly go according to plan are also at risk. A lack of self-confidence is the ideal breeding ground for a gambling addiction. The affirmation that one should actually get in real life, the person affected gets in arcades, casinos or at the home console.
With a gambling addiction, the person affected usually goes through three phases:
- and despair.
While the winning phase is not yet particularly worrying and brings a lot of fun, the next phase is already not so nice to look at. The losing phase occurs when the winnings fail to materialise and the addict realises that a lucky streak is not going to last. Now gambling suddenly becomes expensive. The pressure increases to win back the gambled money. The so-called "Mission Impossible" sets in. The final phase is pure despair that it is getting harder and harder to come up with the necessary money to hit the jackpot "just one last time". If this succeeds, then the whole thing starts all over again. A real vicious circle from which those affected often only get out with therapeutic help.
Getting away from gambling addiction with the help of therapy
A gambling addiction usually ends in personality and anxiety disorders that one can no longer control oneself. Fortunately, the person affected is not completely helpless in the face of the dilemma. First of all, one should confide in a close person and admit to the gambling addiction.
Addiction counselling, which is available in all larger cities in Germany. There, the person concerned will quickly learn that there is a way out of the addiction. Depending on the severity of the gambling addiction, the decision should be made for either outpatient or inpatient addiction therapy.
In both variants, the patient is psychologically stabilised and learns coping strategies to resist temptation in the future. How long the healing process takes varies from case to case. According to studies, however, the course is greatly favoured if the affected person also joins a self-help group after therapy.
Addictions - they lurk everywhere
Those who have so far been spared from gambling addiction should nevertheless not reassure themselves, because addictions have many faces. Three of the currently most common ones should be briefly highlighted.
The worst of all addictions is nicotine addiction. The figures speak for themselves here. According to the German Society for Nicotine Research, the addiction to smoking kills about 140,000 people in this country every year. Not to mention the damage to the health of passive smokers, which smokers gladly put up with.
Right after nicotine addiction is the addiction to high-proof alcohol. This is probably due to the fact that alcohol consumption is still considered absolutely socially acceptable today. No matter whether it's a steelworker, a teacher or a lawyer - very few people miss out on the after-work beer and the one or other intoxication. And this despite the fact that around 74,000 people die every year from the consequences of alcohol consumption.
The true extent of one of the most modern of all addictions cannot yet be really estimated, but the professional future of therapists is likely to be secured for all time with internet addiction. People are still cautious with figures here, but estimates are already being made diligently. According to various studies, the number of people affected is somewhere between 560,000 and 1.5 million.
To end this article on a positive note, let us pause for a moment in gratitude that we live in a country where everyone has a right to medical and therapeutic help. So for those affected, it is never too late to press the "restart" button.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Signs of a gambling addiction are inner restlessness, an uncontrollable urge to gamble and a daily routine that revolves mainly around gambling. Other signs can be mood swings, especially outbursts of anger when trying to stop the person from gambling.
A person who develops a gambling addiction usually goes through three phases: Winning, losing and despair. The winning phase is often pleasant and not worrisome. The loss phase occurs when the wins fail to materialise and the person feels pressure to make up for the losses. The despair phase is characterised by the difficulty of raising money to continue gambling and the frequent need for professional therapeutic help to break the vicious circle.
Those who suffer from gambling addiction should first confide in a close person. In many cities, there are addiction counselling centres that offer both outpatient and inpatient addiction therapy. In the therapy, the patient is psychologically stabilised and taught coping strategies. Joining a self-help group after therapy can also contribute to recovery.