When gambling goes from fun pastime to obsession

2019-08-07 06:02
Is your gambling a problem?PHOTO: freedomfromaddiction.com

Is your gambling a problem?PHOTO: freedomfromaddiction.com

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DESCRIBED as a non-substance-related addictive disorder, gambling addiction bears a striking resemblance to substance abuse.

According to the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation (SARGF), a problem gambler is someone who continues to gamble despite the negative consequences or impact it may be having on his/her life.

SARGF states that there are many signs that a problem gambler may exhibit. Those close to the person in question may pick up that they have become withdrawn; they may be tired a lot of the time; they may be asking for money or loans; they may state that they are feeling lost or feeling hopeless; and they seem worried or agitated for no apparent reason. They may also be spending long periods of time away from home or at the licensed gambling venue or even participating in illegal gambling.

Local organisation Focus on the Family Africa said: “Gambling, like most addictions, goes from a fun, harmless diversion to an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences. It’s actually predicated on the losses, pain, and suffering of others. For one to win at gambling, others must lose, and sometimes the biggest losers are the gambler’s closest loved ones.

“Families touched by a gambling addiction are at increased risk for such negative outcomes as divorce, bankruptcy, child abuse, domestic violence, crime, and suicide,” said the organisation.

If you’re facing a problem relating to gambling addiction with a loved one, Focus on the Family Africa offered the following advice:

- Help them devise strategies to replace and replicate the perceived benefits of gambling. In other words, if gambling has provided an outlet for escaping problems, reducing anxiety, or achieving an emotional “high”, then the affected person needs to find more constructive ways of meeting these needs.

- Help them take more responsibility for their actions, including the damage to relationships with the family.

- Debunk all the erroneous beliefs the gambler harbours about gambling, such as their view on how luck operates and how they can manipulate the odds by means of their own “system.”

- Augment the gambler’s emotional skills, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and relapse-prevention skills. The principal goal is to change the gambling habit and reverse the destruction it has caused in the gambler’s life and in the lives of their family.

“Focus on the Family’s Counselling Centre can provide you with a list of local referrals to professionals working in this field. If your loved one does reach the point where they are willing to seek professional counselling, we highly recommend that you do this together as a family. The most successful addiction therapy programmes take a family systems approach that involves intensive evaluation and a series of counselling sessions offered in an environment of community and accountability,” added the organisation.

For more information contact the organisation at 031 716 3300 or e-mail correspondence@fotf.co.za

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