Pathological gambling is a severely disabling disease that can have terrible consequences on the lives of those who suffer from it and their loved ones. The self-destructive aspect is not so much directed towards one’s body as it happens in alcohol or drug addiction, but this is not to be underestimated. Like any pathological addiction , the need to search for the object or behavior is “stronger” than the subject and by virtue of this, in the most serious cases, it pushes him to actions that are unacceptable for himself and for those around him.
History and definition of pathological gambling
Gambling is a very ancient practice, just think that its etymology dates back to the Arabic az-zahr, with French azard and Spanish azahar influences, and meant game of dice, more precisely zahr was the flower represented on one of the sides of the dice and which most likely indicated the winning shot. It then lost this meaning of a lucky blow and took rather the opposite direction, already in the Middle Ages, of an evil blow, risk, even danger. Today it is used to indicate something that is unpredictable, aleatory. In pathological gambling, you are constantly exposed to the risk of an absolutely uncontrolled situation and the search for this sensation is impossible to manage for the subject who comes to risk everything he has, not only on a material level, to chase a sensation even before the mirage of a win.
Symptoms of pathological gambling or ludopathy
According to the DSM-V, in order for a diagnosis of pathological gambling addiction to be made, certain conditions must be met that investigate the criticality of the behaviors implemented by the player. This list also highlights the symptoms that make it possible to identify the pathological player. The list is made up of nine items that investigate the growing severity of the situation , starting from the need to raise the stakes more and more to achieve the same level of excitement to the need to turn to others to remedy the desperate situation in which they are. found. Only once they hit rock bottom do they ask for help.
- He needs to play more and more amounts of money to achieve the desired excitement.
- He is restless or irritable when he tries to decrease or stop playing
- Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, reduce or stop gambling
- He is often worried about the game (for example, he has constant thoughts in which he relives past gaming experiences, plans the next game, thinks about how to get money to play with).
- Often plays when in pain (for example, hopeless, guilty, anxious, depressed)
- After a loss of money gambling, the day often comes back to break even (“chasing” their losses)
- Mind to conceal the extent of involvement in the game
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or employment opportunity due to gambling
- He relies on others to get money to mitigate desperate financial situations caused by gambling
The search for escape
As in all similar pathologies, the employee seeks the substance or behavior to relieve a deeper pain or when he is in difficulty to escape from an elaboration or a taking of responsibility that he cannot tolerate at that moment.
This mechanism is typical of addiction as an attempt at self-healing by the subject. In the long term, however, there may be numerous complications that push the subject towards a descending parable that reinforces the vicious circle and consolidates all those negative affects from which one was trying to escape. Moreover, addiction and the growing need for money can lead to relationship problems with loved ones but also problems with the law or with debtors .
Causes of ludopathy
The pathological player is aware, even if he does not always admit it, that he has a problem but at the same time he cannot overcome it for two main reasons:
- It’s the only way he can not get worse, this is the attempt at self-care inherent in the game
- This mechanism is a vicious circle that comes to monopolize most of the life and thought of those who suffer from it.
The main cause is the pleasure at the base of the game , the temptation offered that promises a mirage, at least at the beginning, is part of the phase of idyll with the game, and then fades into the background. The pathological player no longer plays for the mirage of victory , he plays because he has to, he plays to recover the lost sums, he plays to feel the adrenaline of the moment of maximum tension in which he follows the ball in the roulette to see where it will stop or is concentrated on the order of the boxes to be scratched. At that moment everything goes out and there is only that. It is a total and complete escape from problems and thoughts, not unlike the artificial paradises offered by drugs and equally ephemeral.
At the same time, however, the neuropsychological circuit that is strengthening becomes more and more difficult to correct, addiction drives us to play more and more sums and the “craving “, the need to play becomes increasingly out of control. Gambling can actually be counted among impulse control disorders, that is, those disorders in which the subject is unable to manage the impulse that arrives. A work on this aspect can be very useful because it can help transform the vicious circle of dis-control into a virtuous circle resulting from greater awareness and satisfaction of self-control.
Conclusions: Is it possible to get out of pathological gambling?
In summary, you can approach the game out of curiosity and fun, but then from the encounter with gambling it is not possible to predict what will arise. For some subjects, by virtue of their personal characteristics and also of the particular life situation they are going through, the inclination to play can get out of hand and become a problem. Before it is too late, before losing everything, it is always possible to stop but some do not succeed. Serious players really need to lose everything to realize they can’t go on like this. It is really difficult to stay close to them and understand how to help them, but without a spontaneous will to seek help, every attempt at treatment runs the risk of being unsuccessful.