With gambling addiction treatment, the loss of control that some experience when gambling was described thousands of years ago in Indian Sanskrit. In the following story, Yudhishtira cannot stop even though he loses all his possessions, and then he even offers his wife as a bet.
“Have you come to play dice,” demanded Duryodhana.
“A king may not lawfully refuse a challenge from another
king,” said Lord Dharma (Yudhishtira).
“I challenge you,” said Duryodhana.
“I will play.”
“I will offer this magnificent golden chain as my stake.”
Yudhishtira lost, of course. The dice they played was not
our modern game of pure chance, but a game that involved
number skills and quick hands, and Sakuni (Duryodhana’s
ally) was an expert. And he cheated. Probably. It’s impossible to know for sure that he cheated, and it is really beside
the point anyway. Yudhishtira lost everything—his palaces
and lands and herds, his chariots and his servants, the very
clothes on his back.
Sakuni said, “Do you want to play again?”
“What is left?” said Yudhishtira, wearily.
The following is from The Addicted Brain, a book by Michael Kuhar, that describes gambling addiction treatment.
As he drove past the casino, he could see the marquee, the valet parking stand…and the feelings started up again. He felt the thrill of placing a bet, of winning a pot. He felt energy, and his mind went faster. He wanted to be there, and he could feel the very cards in his hands…As he drove farther and the casino was left far behind, he mumbled, “Staying away is getting a little easier, but it’s far from easy.”
Can we be addicted to something besides drugs? Maybe we can. Consider the broad definition in gambling addiction treatment of addiction, which is a search for, or a preoccupation with something, that ends up being distressing or destructive to you, and you can’t easily stop. In recent years, there have been more and more studies of various forms of behavioural addiction such as excessive gambling, eating, and sexual activity. Gambling addiction treatment has taught us that the different kinds of addictions have many things in common. First of all, the behavior takes up a lot of time and effort, and it gradually gets out of control such that attempts at stopping or controlling it are unsuccessful. These activities might result in conflicts with teachers, friends, and family members. It might affect the mood and health of the person, and impact the individual’s finances, education, or work. Sound familiar? When this happens it’s time to seek gambling addiction treatment.
Excessive or pathological gambling can be considered as “addictive” in several ways. There are powerful rewards—money and the thrill of winning. The problem with gambling addiction treatment is that you need time and money to gamble, and this can obviously be a problem when a gambler is overextended and losing. It is sometimes regarded as an impulse control problem. Many people stay away from gambling, saying that they don’t trust themselves. Like drug use, pathological gambling has been with us throughout history and it is not a passing fad. When a behavior is found over many generations and in many cultures, it seems that it is part of
our human inclinations.
There have been many studies on gambling addiction treatment. Studies of twins suggest that there is a genetic factor in becoming a gambler. If one member of a twin pair is a gambler, the other member is more likely to be a gambler than an unrelated person. Also, the dopamine system has been associated with gambling. Just as we have described a dysfunction of the frontal cortex in drug users, a similar problem has been found in gamblers who were studied using a card game. Gambling has been correlated with drug use suggesting a common connection or vulnerability of the two. Several imaging studies have shown that pathological gambling involves the same areas of the brain
as substance abuse. This further implies that both gambling and substance abuse use the same neuronal circuits, such as the dopamine-containing mesolimbic circuit, which is so critical in drug abuse.
Gambling addiction treatment for pathological gambling has been mainly behavioral, involving counseling, family therapy, twelve-step programs (Gamblers Anonymous), and the like. The use of medications has not yet been well studied but it is getting attention. There are also gambling addiction treatment centers for gamblers, although their number is very small compared to the centers for treating substance abuse. Overall, pathological gambling seems to be similar to drug addiction, and it will undoubtedly benefit from the extensive work done for drug addiction. But, more studies specific to gambling addiction treatment need to be carried out.