Ever heard of Pathological gambling? Pathological gambling otherwise known as Compulsive gambling is an illness which advances in severity. It’s a psychological disorder which is quite similar to alcohol addiction as its hard to overcome.
The affected individual referred to as the compulsive gambler passes through some stages as the illness progress and each of these stage has peculiar signs. The signs of the first three stages are similar in all affected individuals, but there are notable changes as the stages progress. This article is geared towards information about the five stages of compulsive gambling. Compulsive gambling has five different stages although not all experiences all the stages as some may die before getting to the final one. In this article, compulsive action gambler will be primarily tagged the male while problem gambler will be tagged the female.
Action Compulsive Gambler Profile
Males are referred to as compulsive action gambler. These set of people has an IQ of over 120; they are egoistic, domineering, and manipulative and they also tend to control others. He has great persuasive skills, assertive, full of energy, assertive but with a low self-esteem. I suppose that these group of people began gambling in their early teenage years and the phases will cover a period of 10 to 30 years. Their desired games are mostly skilful games which may be card games such as dice games or poker, dog racing or horse racing. You will often sight them in sports betting arena and gambling venues. He believes that he has the tactics to score a big win which makes him conclude that he can win everyone at a game. A recent study conducted on action compulsive gamblers revealed that they tend to switch to video poker games in the later phases because they want to escape from the feeling permanent losses gives them. Video poker machines have a narcotic-like or numbing effect which serves as a medication to action Compulsive gambler. Although this doesn’t alter the advancement of compulsive gambling.
Stage One – Winning
Based on the findings and research of the Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling (ACCG), the winning period lasts between 3 and five years. During this time, he enjoys great wins. In fact, he hardly losses as he enjoys the big win. This big win may double or triple his monthly or annual income. As a result of these big wins, compulsive action gamblers come to the conclusion that they are smarter than other gamblers. They believe that they know all the rules of the game and the tactics to win. They call themselves professional, but all this is just an illusion. During this period, the gambler spends his time on gambling. He spends all his resources, energy and money on gambling. And soon enough, the gambler progressives to the second stage.
State Two – Losing
The ACCG describes the next stage as the losing stage. The losing stage lasts longer than five years. The compulsive action gambler increases his bets by betting larger sums. In fact, he steps up the frequency and pace of his gambling. When he loses a game, he sees it as a one-time thing, and he believes that he will recover his money. To make matters worse, he increases his bets and bets on the huge amount of money even when he has the feeling that he will lose. He ignores this feeling because he hopes for a big payday which may never come. As he increases his bets, he loses more than he wins and he keeps increasing his chances with the hope of recovering all his money. He hopes for a big win and hence chases his losses. In just a short time, other types of negative and deceptive behaviour begin to surface.
- Borrowing money –You’d agree with me that one needs money to gamble. In the same wise, when you gamble and lose money, you want to gamble again, and this money comes from somewhere. The compulsive action gambler has been chasing his losses and now needs money to gamble. He resorts to borrowing money. He may request for a loan, empty his savings or ask for a credit card advance.
- Lies and deception –Now, he has a problem he does not want to admit to anyone. He resorts to lying in a bid to cover his tracks and prefer others from finding out the truth about his situation. He has a gambling problem.
- Boasting about wins –He boasts about his wins although he is losing. His end game is just to make people think that he is still the gambler with great tactics.
- Major setback – As time progresses, the action compulsive gambling experiences a major setback. He finally realises all his losses and requires an immediate flow of cash. He’s desperate for cash and would do anything to get it. He may go to the extent of cooking up stories to convince his family, spouse, employer or friends. The funny thing is people will buy his stories because he is an accomplished liar. He eventually gets more extra money than he requests for. He goes ahead to spend the extra money on gambling. He thinks he’s back in the business of gambling but little did he know that he’s going downhill and faster progressing to the next stage.
Stage 3 – Desperation
As time progresses, the compulsive action gambler becomes depressed. This stage may last for years or maybe for a short period. The compulsive action gambler spends his time worrying about gambling, how to get back to being the man with the biggest win, how to get money for his next bet, where and when, and how to be on top again. He becomes depressed, and losses control. The only thing on his mind is gambling. Thus his negative behaviour increases in intensity and frequency as well as his losses.
- Excessive lying – At this point, the action compulsive gambler resorts to excessive lying. He will resort to telling outrageous lies. He lies over and over again in a bid to cover his cooked up lies.
- Gambling to reduce pain – Gambling is the one activity that makes him feel better. He finds solace in gambling. He continues gambling in a bid to reduce the pain he is feeling. And online promotions, such as the William Hill promo code, or other fake welcome promotions incentives players to play again and again.
- Anger and blame increase –Soon enough, people begins to see through the action compulsive gambler’s lies. He gets angry and pins his problems on situations and other people. He believes his problem is their fault. He blames everyone including the first person that calls him a liar. After all, they are the origin of his problems.
- His family relationship worsens – As a result of his depression, his home is no longer a haven. He finds fault in everybody and blames everyone for his problem, and as a result, there’s no peace and comfort in his home. He’s lucky if his wife has not left with the kids. The wife leaves him and deprives him of seeing the kids.
- Illegal activity begins –Now, his family, friends, and co-workers are aware of action compulsive gambler’s lies and tactics. They are not helping him again. Where does he get the money to gamble since he has run out of options? The compulsive action gambler will resort to stealing or embezzling funds. He will convince himself that he will pay all back after he wins big.
- Financial difficulties increase – At this point, compulsive action gambler is behind schedule on mortgage or rent payment. Even his utilities may have been turned off. He has unpaid bills everywhere with no cash to settle them. Every cent that comes in hand goes back into gambling.
One can imagine the frustration and havoc that the desperation phase is wrecking on the wife of the compulsive action gambler if she’s still around. She is aware of the lies of her husband and his addiction. She’s at the receiving end as she suffers greatly from his deception and betrayal. But still, the wife still lies to other in a bid to cover for her husband. She portrays her husband as a good man. The action compulsive gambler’s wife begs him to quit gambling. Although he promises her to stop, the wife still finds it hard to believe him. He doesn’t quit gambling and as such his situation worsens. The wife, on the other hand, blames herself for her husband’s problem and is depressed too – a depressed couple.
The compulsive action gambler still has the belief that he is in charge. He thinks that he can still get people to believe him or convince people with his lies. He desires that his home becomes a haven again as he truly loves his family. However, he finds it difficult to stop gambling, and this jeopardises his wish for a stable and loving family. If you walk up to him and ask him why he gambles, I bet that he won’t be able to come up with an answer. He has no idea why he gambles; he just knows that he has to gamble. He doesn’t relent in his effort at compulsive gambling even though he knows that the days of winning are over.
As the depression stage progresses, the compulsive action gambler begins to think of a way out of his misery. The common thoughts that come to his mind are suicidal thoughts. The wife of the compulsive action gambler may not know the weight of the problem at hand until her husband is arrested or she walks in on her husband attempting to commit suicide. This triggers her to push her husband to go for treatment. Although a small percentage of action compulsive gamblers makes the decision to go for treatment without being pushed. But a greater percentage waits until they are pushed by someone or given an ultimatum. Then they call a treatment group or facility. The person that pushes them to go for treatment or gives an ultimatum is usually the spouse. It could also be a mandate by his employer or a court-ordered treatment program.
Studies conducted on action compulsive gamblers had revealed that he is not really into the treatment program when he begins treatment. He’s happy at the thought of his family being all over him and supporting him. Then he proceeds with the treatment but not fully committed to it. And after a few sessions, he concludes that he has gotten the most out of the program and that he’s a hero who has resolved to stop gambling. He becomes egoistic again and stops going for treatment. After all, he has all gotten all he needs from the program. But his plan all along has been to go back into gambling. He gambles again and losses only this time his losses are on a gradual downward slide. When this happens, he goes back for the treatment, and after a little while, he quits again. The cycle goes on until he finally decides to end his compulsive gambling and get serious with the treatment program. A recent survey conducted on action compulsive gamblers revealed that the gambling cycle of most gamblers ends with death, jail time or criminal activity.
Stage 4 – Hopelessness
Desperation phase is not the final stage of compulsive gambling. There is a stage much worse that desperation phase. The compulsive action gambler progresses to the hopelessness stage, and here he loses all hope. He gives up, and he doesn’t care if he dies or lives. The truth is, he wishes to die and may fulfil his wish by attempting suicide one or two times. If he doesn’t attempt suicide, he may engage in activities that will lead to his incarceration. Getting incarcerated means that they have been removed from the equation and they cannot harm others once they are thrown in prison. At this time, he believes that all hope is lost and no one cares about him. The hopelessness stage is the last stage for most action compulsive gamblers. They either go to jail, or they die. But for some, there’s a silver lining. The fifth and final phase – recovery.
Stage 5 – Recovery
Progressing into the fifth stage requires much effort and resolution on the part of the compulsive action gambler. The gamblers need to admit or accept that he ha a problem and is ready to do whatever it takes to get rid of the problem. He finally makes the decision to go for counselling, start treatment for compulsive gambling or go for a 12-step program. In the process of the treatment, the gambler learns new behaviour entirely in a bid to rebuild his life. Just as total abstinence is required for substance abusers and alcoholics, it is also required to quit gambling. Everything about gambling needs to be weaned off. No such thing as gambling for fun or a one-time gambling. The compulsive action gambler needs to interact with others in the same situation; he needs all the support he can get.
For the compulsive action gambler to be truly successful in his treatment or recovery, the spouse or family also needs to participate in their 12-step meetings, group counselling or individual counselling. Likewise, the gambler can’t go back to things they way they were before. He needs to develop and learn new attitudes. The spouse or family of the gambler also needs to exhibit new attitude and behaviour.
In conclusion, not every compulsive action gambler passes through all the stages of the gambling cycle but they can’t escape the first three stages. While some step at stage four and never get a shot at recovery, some reach recovery. There is hope for gamblers who manage to make it to recovery. Although compulsive gambling treatment requires much effort on the part of the gambler, family, and society, the illness will still be given adequate attention. Coping skills and better treatment plans will be developed.