When we gamble most of us feel motivated, which means that we are experiencing strong emotions through the game. Through betting, people can get a certain escape from stress or anxiety from day to day.
Although gambling or gambling is not problematic by itself, the reality is that there are many factors that can lead to gambling addiction. This happens because through betting and gambling you get to affect the psyche of an individual. That is, a game addict sees her behavior and thinking altered. So much so that they end up losing control of their lives through the so-called pathological game.
Gambling or pathological gambling is considered a psychological problem that increasingly affects our society. So much so that the latest data indicates that 75.7% of the Spanish adult population has gambled in the last year. If we stop to analyze these figures in more detail, we can see that 3.5% of them present problematic risk behaviors, including gambling (General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling, 2015). In addition, it is estimated that this rise may be related to the proliferation of gaming halls, as well as online betting, which is being advertised more and more frequently.
On the other hand, despite not being allowed to place bets or play while underage, the reality is that more and more adolescents admit to having gambled on occasion. So much so that 16% of Spanish adolescents declare that they have gambled, these figures are above the European average (ESPAD Group, 2016). This trend leads to an increase in treatment requests for adolescents and young adults.
What to do when someone close to you suffers from it?
Prohibit them from entering: Whoever suffers from gambling, or any family member, can request that the gambler be prohibited from entering gambling places such as bingo halls or casinos. This is done by delivering a copy of the patient’s ID, who will be expelled if he tries to access that premises or facility.
Go to a specialist psychologist: If there is reasonable evidence that you are at a very advanced level or that it can cause serious problems, you should go to specialized professionals or self-help organizations dedicated to gambling.
Be patient: It must be clear that a gambler cannot stop playing without receiving help, so they will never be able to remedy it even if they have willpower. You have to be by her side and be patient.
Know the origin of gambling: Gambling usually occurs for various reasons, so it is best to go to a psychologist to detect where the origin of the disease is.
Set limits: The gambler must undergo a restructuring of his personality to learn to face difficult situations and tolerate frustration. In addition, you must begin to learn to set limits even in everyday tasks in order to have self-control.
Offer support: It is very important that your family and social environment give you their support at all times and in the way that is necessary, just as it would be done in any other addiction. The first thing the family must do is realize that it is a disease and not a vice or a whim. Only when you have assumed it can it be a help for the gambler to get out of the game.
For the treatment or help in compulsive gambling to be effective, it will be necessary to carry out an exhaustive evaluation of the case. In general, the treatment for compulsive gambling is multicomponent, that is, pharmacological and psychological.
Pharmacological treatment: Pharmacological treatment can be very useful to stabilize and contain the appearance of impulses. Some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a drug that is usually prescribed for the treatment of depression, has been shown to be effective, regardless of whether there is comorbidity with the depressive disorder or not. In addition, drugs whose mechanism of action acts on the central nervous system, for impulse control and the pleasure center favor the stabilization of the patient. In this sense, naltrexone is often used. Although pharmacological treatment may be necessary, we must not forget that it is necessary to work at a deeper level, addressing the problem in parallel from psychotherapy.
Psychological treatment: Cognitive-behavioral treatment has proven to be effective. With the treatment of compulsive gambling or pathological gambling, the aim is to build with the patient an alternative behavioral repertoire to gambling. For this it will also be important to work, among other elements, coping skills, the modification of irrational beliefs associated with gambling, as well as problem solving.
If after reading these lines you suspect that both you or someone close to you may be suffering from this disease, it is important to take the next step, seek help to start treatment, it being important that it be done voluntarily in order to obtain the desired results, both in the medium and long term.