Gambling addiction: causes and symptoms of gambling addiction

the gambling it is one of the most common addictions in the western world. But what exactly do we know about pathological gambling? Are we wary of this growing form of psychological disorder?

Gambling or gambling addiction: a drug-free form of addiction

Neither gambling, nor its associated problems, is anything new in our society. Play for fun, recreation, or profit goals is present from our most primitive trials. As old as the game is pathological gambling; the latter means the loss of control of games of chance in which bets are placed, such as slot machines, bingo, casinos or coupons, sports betting and private games.

Fernandez-Montalvo and López-Goñi (2012) describe the pathological gambler as an emotional addiction to gambling, with a loss of control and its corresponding negative impact on their daily life. This dependence can be generated by the false hope of winning in order to win back the lost; cognitive distortion or mistaken thinking keeps the game spiraling. Another prominent feature of this disorder is lying and concealment of gambling.

Be the game a normalized social behavior, in the pathological gambler or player increase in the frequency of episodes (generally daily) and in betting fortune (mainly economic); involved in the game, destroying their family and professional life. Indeed, the word ludopathy comes from the Latin ludus, “game”, and from the Greek patheia, “suffering” or “affection”; that is to say “pathological gambling” (Capetillo-Ventura, Jalil-Pérez, 2014).

Pathological gambling is a relatively common disorder because it is believed that 5% adults they will have gambling problems (APA, 1980). Epidemiological data indicates that four in five adults (78.4%) have bet at least once in their lifetime. 27.1% bet more than 100 times; and 10.1% more than 1000 (Kesseler et al., 2008). Pathological gambling has been studied primarily in men, as approximately two-thirds of people with this disorder are men (APA, 2002). However, it was not until 1980 that pathological gambling was recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Society (APA), in the DSM-III (Potenza, 2008; Albiach, 2006; Fernandez-Montalvo and López -Goñi, 2012). ).

It is therefore a relatively new disorder in research in relation to substance use disorders (Carragher & McWilliams, 2010). Aside from its recognition, it is perhaps one of the most studied disorders of recent decades (Fernandez-Montalvo & López-Goñi, 2012).

Slot machine: the game that has ruined most lives

the slot machinesIt is par excellence the most played game of chance in Spain. This is due, according to Fernández-Montalvo and Echeburúa (1997):

  1. the widespread slot machines.
  2. The possibility of bet little money I earn a lot in proportion to what you bet.
  3. the short interval between the bet and the result.
  4. Handle the machine personally by generating a false sense of control.
  5. The striking elements of noise and light they generate psychophysiological alteration.

The course of the gambling addiction tends to become chronic, It is therefore difficult for him to recover, that is, the person stops playing, if not with psychological intervention (Fernández-Montalvo and López-Goñi, 2012). As with other substance-free addictive disorders (food, Internet, work), the person has the false belief that they are in control of their problem, and that they can leave it unaided.

Gambling Disorder: A Look to the Future

It is possible that the growing interest in this issue is due to an increase in gambling addicts; the seriousness of the problems associated with gambling addiction; and its expansion into new technologies via the Internet, thus generating a greater accessibility. Regarding this last point, let us underline the many online games that arise every day, both via PC (for example: through the famous flashy mini-games on Facebook) and via the video game console (new and still incomplete games with downloadable or downloadable content). We still don’t know how much the player’s investment will increase to get the “ dlc or enhancements ” in these types of games, but we do expect the gaming industries to invest time to generate the need to pay for their customers. to get them “improvements”.

We must not forget the games called ‘games of chance“Which are also available online. The novelty here is that these games are available for minors unlike years ago where there was no play payout and during play no more payouts (previously you only paid for your play once). Could this be a new precedent for gambling addiction in the years to come? young people who they standardize the payment to play. Could it be that slot machine technology is improving dramatically and people continue to become addicted to gambling? And could people come to see it as “normal” for other people to play bets or invest a portion of their savings in their games, as has happened with excessive cell phone use?

As we see, it is not just a question of money, but of time invested in it. It’s about stopping doing your daily chores, stopping to take care of your partner, friends, work, or other key aspects to prioritize play in your life.

The Ministry of Health indicates that 95% of adolescents over 15 of the Valencian Community has a mobile phone with Internet, thus promoting the addictive behavior associated with gambling addiction. Tomàs (2014) declares in this regard: “there is a fact that we would like to point out from the Valencian Institute of Gambling Diseases – the first to specialize on the subject in Spain -. We find it very serious that minors are allowed to bet in bars where there are betting machines. We know the situation is happening and cannot be accepted. As more and more adolescents undergo treatment for gambling problems (Fernández-Montalvo and López-Goñi, 2012), this is reason enough to encourage the proper use and control of new technologies as a effective intervention.

Witness of a player

In an EiTB report, the precious testimony of José Manuel was provided, a Spaniard who became addicted to the game and who tells us how he experienced the game on his own skin and how he managed to break free. Here we leave the video.

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