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    Overcoming Gambling Addiction

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    Gambling is an urge of playing a game in which money is normally at stake. There are many forms of such games including casinos, horse races, different kinds of lotteries, card rooms, and stock market betting. Although these kinds of games have been created for entertaining and recreational purposes, there are people who become addicted and who desire to gamble in spite of harmful negative consequences or a need to stop.

    Addictive gambling often is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler's behavior. It can strain the relationships, interfere with responsibilities at home and at work, and lead to financial catastrophe. People even start doing things they never thought they would, like stealing to get money to gamble or pay gambling debts. They start to lie and cheat once out of cash to use for their addiction.

    Many people when starting to gamble, think that there will be no problem to stop at any given time, but they don't even realize how their initial excitement eventually transforms into losing of control, how they start to gamble more and more frequently in order to bet larger and larger amounts of money, and finally turn into real addicts.

    Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive addiction is also linked to a range of serious personal and social harms such as depression and suicide, bankruptcy, family breakup, domestic abuse, assault, fraud, and even homelessness. These problems can be devastating to the person addicted as well as their family, friends, and workplace.

    Game is the only thing that occupies the mind of an addict and is all they want to do, no matter what the consequences are. Compulsive gamblers keep gambling whether they are in a good or in a bad mood, whether they are broke or flush, happy or depressed. Even when they realize that the odds are against them, they still don't have any desire to lose, people with a gambling addiction cannot "stay off the bet."

    According to the experts, there are three stages leading to gambling addiction:

    1st stage: The so-called winning stage. It starts with the player's first wins. This event releases such a big amount of adrenaline into the brain of an individual, that they will pay any price to repeat the sensation.

    2nd stage: The losing stage. Eventually, the player will start to lose from time to time. The excessive players usually do not like to lose. They start playing more and more in order to get the lost money back, and always believe that the luck is just on its way. This very often leads to trapping the player into a vicious circle.

    3rd stage: The desperate stage. At this point, the person is already deeply affected by the gambling addiction. He becomes exhausted, isolated and hopeless. At this stage, the player is often in considerable distress where the need for help is a desperate extremity.

    Electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are considered to be the most addictive form of gambling ever invented. Their colors, lights and sounds attract regular gamblers to bet faster and faster to such extent, that at the end they become extremely obsessed. Experts say that it takes just one year to get addicted to VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals), while it takes nearly 4 years to become addicted to other forms of gambling such as horses, sports betting and blackjack.

    VLTs and video slots have become the single largest source of gambling revenues in many countries - and it is known that 60 per cent of all VLT revenues come from addictive gamblers. Casinos are not the only places to find compulsive gambling. The slots can be found everywhere - in race tracks, as well as in bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, billiard halls and many other places.

    In order to overcome a gambling addiction, the first step to start with is to admit, recognize and accept the problem by addicts themselves. For many gamblers, this is usually the hardest part. Most of them may not just realize that they are having this problem, while others may be aware of it but would not admit its existence.

    This might be a good time to come clean to the loved ones and ask for their support. However, it is recommended to seek professional help from an addiction specialist. People with this kind of problem can receive help from professionals only after they have started to help themselves by admitting their difficult situation. Recovery will never happen when people minimize the extent of their condition, when they start making excuses, or blame others for their mistakes.

    Overcoming a gambling addiction or problem is never easy. Counseling is a good choice in order to regain a control over the gambling addiction, and is the best way to find a long-term solution.

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