Gambling for life

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 From Issue Vol. XVIII No. 50 By  Richard L. Fellner

Many people enjoy gambling, whether betting on a horse or playing poker on their computer. Most of these people don’t have a problem, but some lose control over their gambling. They bet high amounts of money on card games, in casinos or playing slot machines. Today, people don’t even have to leave their homes to satisfy their drive to gamble anymore: the Internet allows one to spend unlimited hours playing games or placing bets without anyone interfering by asking uncomfortable questions - actually, many of the respective companies behind such websites try to keep people gambling as long and for as much money as possible. But once used to the rituals involved in a game, it is very hard for most to resist the urge of doing it again - if ‘only one more time’ in order to reverse their losses...

Typical signs of a serious gambling problem include:

• Always thinking about gambling

• Lying about gambling

• Gambling during work

• Spending family time gambling

• Feeling bad after you gamble - but still not quitting

• Gambling with money needed for other things - asking friends or family members for money or even breaking the law in order to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses.

The difference between a casual gambler and a compulsive gambler is that the latter feels restless or irritated when they can’t gamble. They need the kick of betting money and will use gambling to relieve tension. While they may have tried to reduce gambling, they were not successful in the end. Effectively, they are losing not only money, but also valuable time from their lives, which are affected not only by the addiction itself but also by the long-term damage it causes them. An Australian study recently showed that 17% of suicidal people were problem gamblers.

Effective treatments for problem gambling involve a combination of counseling, step-based programs, self-help and peer-support. Sometimes medication is prescribed as well; however, only using one of these treatments alone is not considered to be sufficiently efficacious and no medications have been approved for the treatment of pathological gambling by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Live the happy life you planned! Richard L. Fellner is head of the Counseling Center Pattaya in Soi Kopai and offers consultations in English and German languages after making an appointment at 0854 370 470.

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