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Detoxify Your Life: Eliminating Bad Habits Effectively

Pulling The Plug On Gambling

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Why do people gamble? Most of us go to casinos and participate in online betting and lotteries because it’s an alternative recreational activity and gives us something new to do. We go gamble to have fun and learn new experiences. Often we gamble to take a stab at winning something.

This is fine. There really is no problem to taking a chance once in a while, especially if it’s only for social and recreational purposes. However, it becomes a major problem when we become hooked and turn to gambling as a means of escape from the many problems that surround us (only to find out that it has led us to more bad than good).

For instance, if you’ve begun borrowing money from friends and family just so you could feed this perceived need to gamble, then you might already have a problem. More than just a bad habit, gambling can be considered a serious mental disease when done in excess. A compulsive gambler runs the risk of being a danger not just to himself, but also to the people around him.

Psychologists say that constant and uncontrollable gambling often happens to people who need to fill an emotional need. It doesn’t matter really if a person has the means to gamble or not. Over the long term, even the richest of compulsive gamblers will run into some sort of financial and relational trouble. And what they do to cope with this growing burden is to gamble some more.

The Choices We Make

Gambling, first and foremost, starts with a choice whether or not we want to proceed. And the choices don’t really end there, because every time we face the tables and place our bets, we are confronted with the question “Should I go forward, or not?” In short, this bad habit is not something that leaves us with no option, so we really can’t start pointing fingers at others or at circumstances when we’re looking for someone or something to blame.

However, some do say that since pathological gambling is an addiction, people do not really have a choice but to go with it. This is highly debatable because humans are equipped with rational faculties that allow them to make decisions. On the contrary, like the other addictions, such as drinking and smoking, controlling ourselves from making that bet is rather difficult, especially when the potential gains are high.

The Lure of Winning

People like to be good at something. To address this, most of us turn to gambling because there lies a significant chance of winning. However, the operative word here is “chance”, meaning unsure and untested. But compulsive gamblers take the bet anyway, despite knowing that every gambling activity places its odds more in losses than in gains.

Because of the introduction of new forms of gambling, like state lotteries and online sports betting venues, people tend to get excited that they often forget what they’re doing. The “sport” is advertised everywhere, from televisions, to radios, to billboards, to newspapers, that gambling has become part of daily existence. Because of the way it is marketed, people are tricked into thinking that what they’re doing is actually good and beneficial.

Sure, gambling can also bring benefits, but the disadvantages almost always outdo the gains. Before they realize it, gambling addicts are deep in debt and find themselves selling family heirlooms and even their own houses to pay their dues and continue their addiction.

Go For Low-Risk Gambling

If you must gamble, it is advised that you engage in low-risk gambling, instead. This is relatively safer, though the stakes could be a lot lower. However, if you’re just trying to beat boredom and merely want something to do, this could be a quick and safer fix.

Low risk gamblers are more in control of their behaviour than compulsive gamblers. They know that what they’re doing is merely for fun and social purposes. They know that they have time and betting limits, and they are aware that the odds lean more toward losses. This is the type of gambler you should strive being (if you really can’t eliminate gambling from your life) -- someone who is in charge of the direction he is going, someone who knows how to say ‘no’ to himself and stop.

When Should I Not Gamble?

Gambling becomes more risky when you’re doing so to fill an emotional void. Thus, if you’re feeling stressed, depressed or are trying to figure out solutions to personal problems, you should stay away from gambling as it could only jeopardize your chances of being able to think clearly and could only sink you into deeper emotional strain (and, eventually financial trouble).

Many chronic gamblers are suicidal. This is because they let their emotions run them over and they lose control of themselves. If you’re suffering from any form of negativity, never, ever participate in any type of gambling.

You should also avoid gambling when you’re simply trying to impress other people. Sure, you could look like a real big shot at first; but when you start losing, you will be more pressured to at least end the night with a win and you continue on. The next thing you know, you have nothing in your wallet and already owes somebody money.

Characteristics of a Compulsive Gambler

If you’ve already taken to gambling as a regular means of recreation, beware. You could be on your way to becoming addicted to it. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are a pathological gambler.

  • Has gambling ever made my personal life unhappy?

  • Have I ever lost work time because of this habit?

  • Has gambling affected my ambition and efficiency?

  • Have I ever borrowed money from others or sold something just so I could gamble?

  • Have I ever had difficulty sleeping because I couldn’t think about anything else but gambling?

  • Has my habit been a cause of concern for my family and friends?

  • Have I harboured thoughts of committing illegal acts so I could finance my gambling habits?

  • Have I gotten into fights because I constantly gambled?

If you’ve answered yes to at least five of the above, then you might already be an uncontrollable gambler.

Getting Help

Admitting you have a problem is the first step in quitting the gambling habit. It will be an uphill battle, but you will be thankful for doing so in the long run. Seek the help of family and friends to help you steer away from anything related to it. Look for new sources of recreation. Get busy with something else. Foster relationships and realize that not everything can be solved by playing with money. There are actually many things you can do by yourself if you’re truly bent on quitting gambling.

If you’re not one but know someone who might be or already is, don’t hesitate to show that person how concerned you are and that you genuinely want to help. You will be met with hostility at first, as most compulsive gamblers are secretive and will not admit they have a problem, but continue on if you really care. Note that chronic gamblers have typical mood swings, so you have to be prepared for this, too. Merely telling a person that his or her gambling habits are bothering you will not be enough to stop the habit. You have to be there to see the progress through.

If all else fails and it seems that close relations are just not enough to convince a person to stop gambling, then maybe it’s time to seek professional help. There are many free assistance services in all over the country to help a chronic gambler or his friends cope with the addiction.

You may call the Gambling Problems Resource Center in the United States at 1-800-247-1303, Gamblers Anonymous at 1-612-922-3956, or Gam-Anon (for families and friends of compulsive gamblers) also at 1-612-922-3956. These agencies will be more than willing to give you free information and counselling for any gambling related problems you might encounter.

As people concerned about loved ones who have been trapped by the gambling habit, we should make it a point never to deal this problem with hostility. The more negative we are with our loved ones’ addiction, the more difficult it will be for us to reach out to them and understand why they are doing so.

Dealing with the problem requires a lot of patience from both the gamblers and the people around them. The good thing about it is that it is something that can be overcome and entirely beaten. Don’t lose hope just yet.

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