Psychological Self-Help

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your children, and destroys relationships. Gamblers drop over 50
billion dollars every year, 30% comes from problem gamblers. That's
more money than spent on movies, recorded music, theme parks, and
sports events combined! That's huge. Ironically, gambling brings in 12
billion to 37 state governments, but those states spend only 20 million
to help the addicts, with ruined lives, get treatment, education or
common phases in gambling addiction. First, there is a winning
experience or phase, a happy time that hooks them into hoping for
more windfalls. They quickly become unduly optimistic (“I have a
feeling I’m going to win”) and start betting larger amounts. Second, is
the inevitable losing phase. Still bragging about previous winnings,
they now start to gamble alone and obsess more about winning back
their losses. The problem, as they now see it, is how to get more
money so they can recoup their losses. They start lying about their
activities and losses; they raid or beg for spouse’s and relative’s
money; they may become withdrawn, anxious, and irritable when they
can’t pay their debts. Last is the desperation phase. Many feel
hopeless panic knowing they are in an impossible economic situation.
They may blame others or get very depressed, about half abuse
alcohol or drugs. Divorce, arrests (2/3’s commit crimes), mental
breakdowns, etc. are not uncommon. 
The Illinois Addiction Recovery web site (see above) has a test to
help you determine if you have a gambling problem. Over 85% of
Americans have gambled at least once, so remember it is causing
problems and getting into trouble that defines a serious addiction.
Gamblers with significant problems make up only about 1%-2% of the
American population. It is important to note, however, that teenagers
are three times more likely than adults to become problem gamblers.
Each “problem gambler” costs the taxpayers about $3000 a year,
according to the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research
Council. Moreover, as the state-run lotteries become more popular
with huge payoffs, addiction rates go up. Every gambler in some part
of his/her mind recognizes that in the course of time he/she will
almost certainly lose money. Yet, gambling enthusiasts somehow
contort their minds into believing that they not only can win but have
a “good chance” of winning. It is very irrational thinking. 
There is evidence that Cognitive-Behavioral treatment focusing on
correcting misconceptions about gambling (as well as teaching
problem-solving, social skills, and relapse prevention) can be
successful (Sylvain, Ladouceur & Boisvert, 1997). However, most of
the gambling treatment centers associated with hospitals and
psychiatrists are, like alcohol programs, associated with 12-step
programs (see Gamblers Anonymous
( or call 1-213-386-8789). The
Gambling Help Line (1-800-522-4700 or 1-800-GAMBLER) offers crisis
counseling and information, including treatment and GA group
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