Gambling addiction is a serious personal and societal problem that is growing more pervasive and expensive for everyone. In my city, for example, one can easily find 4-5 gambling machines within a few blocks of any school, home, or office ? and online versions are accessible within a click.
?Previous research has demonstrated that ?free-play? or ?practice? modes on some internet gaming sites provide unrealistically high returns to the players, who are encouraged with pop-up messages and emails to keep playing. However, those high returns are not continued when playing for actual money.? (University of Adelaide Psychology student Tahnee Frahn)
Yes, gambling machines and apps cheat. No surprise there. Criminals often cheat. However, although damning, it?s not the cheating or even the fraud that interests me in this post. These machines and apps tend to cause people to dissociate ? a fundamental aspect of addiction.
While in a dissociated state, the reasoning, responsible, ?just say no? mind shuts down, leaving you in a condition where you can no longer make rational choices ? perfect for fleecing you of your money. Nobody in their right mind would choose to be a problem gambler or to ?play? when the known outcome is certain loss!
Gambling addicts don?t gamble to win ? they gamble to dissociate.
The misunderstanding most non-gamblers have is that gambling addiction is:
- a personal problem of self control that can be fixed through education and will power
- a personal problem that affects only the gambler
Gambling addiction affects families and whole societies. Financially, gamblers will spend every penny they can get their hands on ? it?s an addiction!! They hate themselves for robbing their families, stealing the very food out of their children?s mouths, but they can?t help themselves ? it?s an addiction!!
No amount of self control can help a dissociated person control themselves (that part of their mind is gone ? you can?t do something with that which you don?t have). Contrary to common belief, people dissociated from their ?right mind?, the mind that says ?no!? at the appropriate time, cannot exercise their common sense, strong will power, or reasoning when they are literally out of their minds. This dissociated state of mind is exactly the definition of the term ?out of your mind.? As such, they have little or no will power ? it?s gone!
This is not just a personal or immediate family problem. Addicts, when dissociated, are capable of horrific crimes, although most often theft is the result. The cost to society of gambling is huge. Even if you?ve never gambled once in your life, you?ve no doubt paid as if you had.
The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), edition V, now considers gambling addiction along with substance abuse as a serious mental disorder rather than an impulse control issue. FINALLY!!!
Gambling machines and apps are extremely dangerous to everyone ? either directly or indirectly and should be banned everywhere, with resulting drop in serious crimes addicts tend to commit to sustain their addictions.
State lotteries ? especially those using machines ? should be looked into with a critical eye. I suspect that outlawing machines and apps is only the starting point.
Lacking the object of their desire, gamblers will simply look elsewhere for their dissociative fix. I want to believe there are more healthy and useful dissociative activities that can satisfy the gambler?s desire for dissociated states of mind and help them live happy, productive lives.
BTW, gambling addicts tend to be very intelligent, highly educated, and otherwise productive members of society. Unfortunately, their addiction diminishes that productivity into the negative ? where givers turn into takers.
I have not yet addressed the gambling addict?s issue with shame. More later?
Sources and more info available from:
http://www.dsm5.org ? American Psychiatric Assn
University of Adelaide. (2013, March 19). ??Practice? Makes A Perfect Lure For Internet Gambling.? Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/257778.php.