For some a roll of the dice, spin of the roulette wheel, yank of the slot machine lever, or the shuffle of cards is an occasional jaunt of pleasure. However, for others it becomes a habitual compulsion (gambling addiction) that destroys their family life, finances, and career!
Over the past decade or so, the sixty for thousand dollar question has been; what causes a gambling addiction? Is it a disease? Is it caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain? Well, the mainstream disease theorists would have you believe that it is, but I beg to differ! First and foremost, there is no pathological test to diagnose a chemical imbalance. In fact, there is no empirical evidence to even prove that it exists. It is purely hypothetical and is subjective to each and every clinician. And moreover, the very notion that a disease oriented co-dependence theory could be applied to a compulsive behavior such as a gambling addiction is preposterous. Would the disease theorists have us believe that a chemical in the lever of a slot machine addicts a person to gambling? Or, would they have us believe that a chemical substance in a deck of playing cards seeps through ones fingers and traps them hopelessly in a life of thrills and spills? I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying it!
So, what exactly is the root cause of a gambling addiction? Unlike drugs or alcohol, gambling is obviously a compulsion rather than a substance. And despite this stark contrast between substance abuse and habitual compulsions, the basis for the addiction is one in the same. As with any addiction, a compulsion generally makes people feel better or happier, and it diverts them from their emotional pain. For those that gamble habitually, it’s not a substance but the feeling of power, the thrill of winning, or the excitement of high stakes and chance that diverts them from their emotional pain. However, the thrill of victory quickly turns to agony of defeat when snake eyes show up, or they bust at blackjack and inevitably arrive at a point of financial disaster!
Now, at this point, you may be wondering what causes the emotional distress that leads to gambling addiction. Well, experience has taught me that the root cause of every addiction is the emotional trauma caused by family dysfunction. In fact, as an addiction recovery coach, I have never seen one case that wasn’t rooted in patterns of verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental control, part-time parenting, or drug and alcohol abuse. So, take a moment to self-reflect. What emotional issues are you trying to divert your attention from? Have you been abused, controlled, or unloved? What are you failing to change or to take responsibility for in your life? These are the questions that must be answered. Do you want to change your life? Do you want to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it? Regardless of what others say or what you may tell yourself, you have the power to make choices!
Here’s what you should do
1. Make a decision right here and now to do whatever it takes to deal with your emotional issues and change your life.
2. Turn over your finances to a trusted family member or friend. Someone that can pay your bills and buy the necessities. Establish a date in writing, preferably 60-90 days that they will turn the reins back over to you, with the understanding that if you haven’t stopped gambling or you return to it, they will not!
3. Uncover and confront the root cause of your gambling addiction. (family dysfunction)
4. Re-discover yourself through self-reflection.
5. Be prepared to change your lifestyle and your friends.
The Addiction Freedom Coach