Do you wonder if there is a cure for gambling addictions? There is, but out of the 13 million people in the USA alone who have a gambling problem, very few of them know about it.
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Note that 13 million is not the number of people who gamble – it is the number of people who acknowledge that they have a problem with gambling, and who need gambling addiction help.
How Gambling Addiction Can Ruin Your Life
There are mothers and fathers who gamble with the money they have set aside for their kids college education – and lose it all.You probably know more about that than I do. Out of the people with whom I’ve worked, I met those who lost loved ones because of their gambling, relationships that broke up, jobs that got lost, people who got in trouble with the law because they needed money to support their addiction.
There are people who steal from their own family. These people are not bad people – they simply have lost control over themselves, and the gambling addiction is in charge of their behavior. And it’s not even their fault – because they have fallen prey to far stronger psychological mechanisms than most people can understand. In fact, once you’re hooked on gambling, it’s natural to continue, because your brain is hard-wired that way.
Compulsive gamblers simply can not help it. They must gamble, the same way that a heroine addict must get his fix.
When they don’t gamble, they think about gambling. It takes out more and more out of their lifes. Gamblers always think that their big win is just around the corner, that all the money they lose is just a test of their faith. They think it is just a game that they have to play right to cash out big time.
Gambling addiction doesn’t even mean that you gamble every day. It just means that gambling causes problems in your life, and you can not help but stop it.
Oftentimes, compulsive gamblers use the games as a way to get rid of worrying thoughts, or emotions that trouble them.
Of course, gambling isn’t a disease or a medical drug. But it is just as dangerous, because it can drive you to do things that threaten your financial, emotional and physical well-being.
If you lie to people about your gambling behaviour, then that is a surefire sign that you have a gambling problem. Gamblers often think that others are too uptight about this, too rigid, too parental – but blaming others is most of the time just an easy way to avoid taking a deep hard look into the mirror and seeing things for what they are. Facing this kind of reality is not easy, and most people don’t have the guts to do it. But those who want to break free and find gambling addiction help must do it, no matter what.
One thing that can support your gambling addiction treatment is to get other people involved, so that you have some social support. If you just tell them about what it is you are going through, those who truly care about you will do their best to support you and praise you for every time you resisted the urge to give in.
Hypnosis is the best way to get over gambling addiction, because it helps you to control your impulses better, and get in charge of your own life again. Then, when you feel the urge to play another round, you can recognize it for what it is, and instead chose to engage in another, more productive behaviour that helps you to life a happier and more fulfilled life.
From a psychological viewpoint gambling is pretty fascinating, and there is a good model devised by American psychologist B.F. Skinner to illustrate the mechanisms of the mind involved in gambling addiction. A lot of what drives human behavior can be explained in simple terms of stimulus-response-conditioning.
Maybe you remember hearing about the experiments with Pavlov’s dogs. The scientist Ivan Pavlov was doing experiments where he rang a bell every time prior to giving his dogs food. You know that when you put food in front of dogs, they produce more saliva (just like we humans do too!).
The interesting finding of Pavlov was that he could get the dogs to drool just by ringing the bell too – simply by repeatedly ringing the bell just before putting food in front of them. Essentially the dogs “learned” that the sound of the bell is always followed by food. The more often he rang the bell and then gave them food, the more he reinforced this link in their brain.
Now, later on scientists wanted to understand the mechanisms involved in this better. And they tried using different variables in these experiments. A common setting was to reinforce a certain behavior, for example: lab rat pushes lever (=behavior), lab rat gets food (=reward).
Then they introduced some variability. They wanted to know: what would happen if pushing the lever didn’t always yield a reward (caused the rat to get food).
So then the rat would push the lever once: no food. Push it twice: no food. Push it three times: food!
Then the rat would want more food, so it would push more: once. No food. Twice. No food. Three times. No food. Four times. No food. Five times. No food. Six times. No food. Seven times: food!
Repeatedly giving the rat food after different counts of lever-pushing had an interesting effect: rats that have been conditioned this way are the ones who push the lever the most vigorously. Psychologists refer to this as variable rate schedule of reinforcement.
From a behavioral perspective, the underlying mechanisms are exactly the same in gambling. You have a certain behavior (gambling), and you get rewarded for engaging in this behavior, but the rewards happen at random intervals (sometimes you have to play the slot machine 17 times to get one jackpot, sometimes you have to play it 49 times to get one jackpot, sometimes just once, etc). In manipulative psychology, this is called creating a compulsive loop.
Using hypnosis, you can short-circuit that compulsive gambling loop – something that is very difficult to achieve if you just rely on willpower. Because ultimately, gambling exploits the way we are hard-wired to function, and once you gamble compulsively, stopping it feels like going against your nature.
But when you put your subconscious mind to use you can change this – and thus overcome this gambling addition.
There are a couple of simple rules that you must adhere:
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you play the game, even if there is no money involved! A lot of gambling addicts think they can play the game for fun. But once you get started, it simply triggers addictive patterns that will initiate all the old bad habits, and ultimately you’re putting yourself at a much higher risk of going back to gambling.
Also, make sure that you have some pleasant, relaxing activity or something that keeps you busy and engaged. If you have lots of spare time on your hand with nothing to do, and you get bored, it will be a lot harder to restrain yourself from gambling.
And if you’re dangerously close to making the choice to gamble, one thing that can help you to put on the breaks is to visualize what’s about to happen: realistically. Visualize yourself going through all the excitement only to be broke and depressed at the end.
The Addiction Makers
There are people who’s job is it to make gambling more addictive. Neuroscientists found out that there are certain things that will make people gamble more.
They use technologies like NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) to look into the brains of gamblers.
This way they found out that when people play the slot machine, and they get two out of three symbols right – a near miss – it increased their desire to keep playing. In fact, they have developed a formula for optimizing the frequency of near misses at slot machines, and they found that these optimized near miss frequencies extend gambling time by 30 percent.
And when gamblers feel that they can influence the outcome of a game it increases their brains reaction to it, making their desire to keep gambling even bigger. What does it take to create that (false) feeling of influence over the outcome of a game? Just throwing the dice harder, or pulling the lever of a slot machine more forcefully is enough to do the job.