14.10.2011 Feature Article

Gambling -Addiction Or Choice (part 4)

Gambling -Addiction Or Choice part 4
14.10.2011 LISTEN

In this final instalment, I present my opinion on the subject matter and suggest practical solutions for those entangled in the gambling web. I am inclined to believe that you have read through the three previous tranches and arrived at your own conclusion.

Gambling is an ancient vice that has refused to go away. Rather than mankind moving away from this act, we seem to be embracing it in diverse ways. As noted in Part 2, the proliferation of various types of gambling has actually acted as a recruitment bonanza for more gamblers.

The question of whether gambling is a choice or an addiction has taken me on a long journey. I can assert my position based on my own findings despite the fact that I do not expect everyone to subscribe to my view. I am elated though, that my critics would understand my reasoning and respect my views although they may remain entrenched in theirs.

I can argue based on various responses elucidated from numerous people I have spoken to, both gamblers and non-gamblers, that gambling actually begins as a choice and then goes on to become an addiction. Irrespective of the view that there born gamblers, my findings do not support that position. I am quick to add that the choice levels vary from person to person. All people are not the same and the likelihood for one person ending up as a gambler differs from person to person.

I classify three groups of people;
1. Gamblers-by-choice (gbc)
2. Gamblers-by-addiction (gba)
3. Those displaying both symptoms

There are certain characteristics that distinguish the three classes. I must mention that there are times when the first two are not clearly distinguishable in patrons. In classifying these two groups of people, I base my argument on the element of control. For this classification, the term “gamblers-by-choice” is used to represent the group of people who seem to be able to exercise a greater level of control over when, where and how they gamble. They also seem to have control over how much they gamble. Such people find it a lot easier to walk away compared to gamblers-by-addiction. Gamblers-by-addiction are people who have lost their way and will. Their self power and self will to walk away has been eroded over time and they are now being controlled by the gambling, as opposed to the former group.

1.1 Gamblers by choice
I must state here that for those who gamble not because they are addicted but rather just as a choice, they are still at the periphery of the addiction stage. Some people who actually convince themselves that they are only gambling as a choice are not aware of the fact that they are just a stone throw away from becoming addicts. The level of choices that gamblers have differs from person to person. Those who justifiably argue that they are not addicts actually have a stronger will than the average or ordinary gambler does. This suggests to me that although how long a person remains a gambler by choice may be influenced by time, there are those who have defied the argument that the longer you gamble, the more likely it is for you to lose your will and translate from being a gambler-by-choice (gbc) to a gambler-by-addiction (gba).

1.2 Gamblers by addiction
There are people who deceive themselves that they are not gamblers-by-addiction whereas they actually are. They would never agree to the definition of being referred to as addicts. One major factor that has resulted in gamblers-by-addiction is that for a long time, they convinced themselves they were gambling by choice. They overestimated their will power before they realised they were actually gambling to fund an addiction. Some continue to live in denial of this situation. In essence or to reiterate, nobody is born as an addict and like everything, it starts somewhere; usually as a choice and then moves on to become an addiction.

1.3 Those displaying both symptoms
This group of people are usually gamblers-by-choice yet when they find themselves in gambling environments, they transform to being gamblers-by-addiction. Most of these people are usually made up of;

a. Addicts moving away from gambling (recovering addicts)
b. Gamblers-by-choice nearing an addiction

A practical situation of this has to do with, for example, an ex-addict on the road to recovery who occasionally may have a go. He has developed some will power to stay away from the betting shop. Nonetheless, it so happens that an opportunity presents itself to him and he finds himself in a betting shop. Consequently, he goes on to gamble like he used to gamble. He only returns where he once used to be.

On the other hand, someone close to being an addict but not yet one may also fall into this category. Such a person displays symptoms of an addict once in the gambling environment; not able to resist. Such people who may have been viewed as gamblers-by-choice are able to exercise the will power to stay away as much as possible. Nevertheless, the trigger occurs to be pulled once they find themselves in a gambling environment.

In suggesting practical solutions for the issue of gambling, I believe a good understanding of gambling is a good place to start. In Part 2 of this series, I mentioned the lack of understanding as contributing to the reasons why people gamble. mentions for example that, “If you spend £1 every week on the Lottery, you would expect to wait about 270,000 years before you win a share of the jackpot”. The house always wins. Nobody is luckier; it is only a false sense of confidence to think otherwise.

While the writer does not claim knowledge of all the answers, he attempts to contribute in one way or the other in raising awareness and also giving some practical help to those suffering from the problem of gambling.

Gambling has an effect on time, health, and also strains relationship with family members, amongst others. These challenges include financial hardships like debt or loss of income; personal troubles like stress and anxiety or relationship breakdown, and even legal difficulties where crime becomes the only way to pay off debts. I am thus motivated to offer some suggestions as one statistic suggests that problem gamblers hardly ever seek (for) help. I hope this medium brings some respite/relief to someone in need. The National Health Service (NHS) states that: “There may be as many as 350,000 people identified as problem gamblers in the UK. But among these, it's thought that only about 5% ever seek help, and of those only around 1% receive treatment.”

In a nutshell, this series has explored the subject of gambling from a unique perspective. Fourteen reasons have been given for why people are likely to gamble (Part 2). Fourteen reasons were also suggested as reasons why people refrain (Part 3). These reasons suggest that the subject of gambling is not just a medical condition as some have made it out to be. I suggest the following solutions;

1. Economic
2. Medical
3. Counselling
4. Association
5. Image Consciousness
6. Void filling
7. Spiritual
8. Society's role

To read the full explanation with practical steps please kindly go to GamSol_FRS - I have decided to publish these steps on my blog to give me the opportunity to update and upgrade the level and quality of information on an ongoing basis as new and relevant information becomes available to me.

I am happy to respond to the queries of readers and to grant audience to those who personally wish to discuss the matter. I shall reply to email requests that I receive regarding this pertinent issue.

Dr. Frank Robert Silverson
Email: [email protected]