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  • Gambling Addiction

    Gambling is a type of addiction that negatively impacts an individual's life, their family, and their financial situation, affecting society as a whole. Often played with money or valuable items at stake, gambling can evolve into pathological addiction over time. In this state, both the individual and their family face adverse consequences, and the addiction worsens over time.

    The condition where an individual cannot stop gambling despite making numerous attempts to quit, increasing the amount they gamble, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop gambling, continuing to gamble despite seeing the harm it causes, spending a significant amount of time either gambling or trying to find money for gambling, is a specific condition.

    Individuals with gambling addiction cannot stop themselves when they lose and cannot set a loss limit; they feel compelled to continue playing to try to recoup their losses. In most cases, the person loses more than intended, blames themselves for the lost money, and then tries to compensate for the losses by gambling more, leading to further financial loss. This destructive cycle leads to many negative consequences.

    For example:

    • It can lead to psychological problems.
    • It can lead to other addictions.
    • It can make one selfish and opportunistic.
    • It negatively affects family relationships, financial status, and society.

    Symptoms of Gambling Addiction:

    • Constant preoccupation with gambling thoughts (obsession).
    • Needing increasingly more money to gamble (tolerance).
    • Gambling to escape problems or relieve discomfort.
    • An urge to win back lost money after losing (chasing).
    • Lying to hide the level of gambling addiction.
    • Engaging in illegal activities to finance gambling addiction.
    • Damage to relationships, employment, or educational opportunities.
    • Depending on others to alleviate financial problems caused by gambling.
    • Repeated unsuccessful attempts by the individual to control or stop their gambling addiction (loss of control).

    Stages of Development (Course) of Gambling Addiction: Winning Phase:

    At the beginning of gambling, there is often a moment of "winning" (e.g., winning a large portion of one's annual income at once). During this period, symptoms such as mental changes, lack of tolerance, and loss of control emerge. The time and effort spent on gambling activities increase. Rather than waiting for luck, gambling skills begin to develop. The feelings of power, wealth, and control rise during this period, while defense mechanisms are ignored. During this phase, individuals often neglect close relationships. There is a tendency to focus on winnings and ignore losses.

    Losing Phase:

    This phase begins with a major loss and is known as the "downward spiral" period. Ironically, the individual experiences losses when they should be winning. These losses can turn into "narcissistic blows" that undermine self-esteem for pathological gamblers. The urge to gamble increases after losses, leading to borrowing money and using credit. Pathological gamblers often try legal means to obtain money. Therefore, behaviors such as pushing the limits of credit cards or selling properties are frequently seen. Winnings are reinvested in gambling, leading to increased debts.

    Desperation Phase:

    • This period is a time when the individual has nothing left and is unhappy. Depression and thoughts of suicide become more frequent during this stage.

    • Even though everything has been lost, the person may continue to gamble, but this behavior is more unplanned. This is also a period of increased mood disorders.

    • The individual can follow the steps below to cope with the idea of gambling:

    • Stay away from places where gambling is played and sites where gambling is done online.

    • Avoid factors that trigger thoughts of gambling, such as horse racing programs, casino advertisements, and lottery tickets.

    • Stay away from people who are involved in gambling.

    • Do not engage in discussions about gambling.

    • Keep only cash to meet daily needs and avoid unnecessary use of credit or ATM cards.

    • Change your lifestyle and replace negative habits with positive behaviors.

    • If both the gambler and someone who has this problem are available, they should seek addiction treatment and benefit from these resources to fight gambling addiction.

    • Contact a trusted family friend for support and seek help when needed.

    • Focusing on other activities to distract yourself, doing household chores, or engaging in different interests is important.

    How Can I Help My Loved One with Gambling Addiction?

    • Take preventive measures by setting limits on money management or taking financial responsibility.
    • Be prepared and develop strategies if the gambling individual starts asking for money.
    • Both you and the gambling individual should seek therapy support.

    Gambling addiction is a serious problem, and seeking professional help is important. Supporting the individual with addiction can help them seek treatment.

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