Whether poker, blackjack, slot machines or, above all, sports or football betting – many people in Germany use gambling of this type as an occasional pastime. The entire industry has experienced a real boom, especially since various platforms, betting providers and casinos have made online gambling accessible at all times.
Great danger: The gambling addiction develops insidiously
Addiction never comes overnight . Rather, it is to be understood as a consequence of a gradual development , whereby the transition from fun and pure entertainment to gambling addiction is always fluid. In the early stages, those affected usually manage to hide their gambling addiction from others . Compulsive gambling is not viewed as an addiction by the person concerned .
It is only when betting or gambling has an impact on one’s own financial situation that those close to the person concerned usually become aware of the unusual behavior . Suddenly the gambling addict can no longer meet his financial obligations . Instead , the money for rent and for paying off the bank loan goes directly to the slot machines , the betting shop or the online casino .
In addition, it can often be observed that a compulsive gambler borrows money from family members, friends and acquaintances in the first instance in order to finance his gambling addiction. At this point in time, gambling and betting have long since become the focus of one’s own life . Close people as well as other interests and hobbies are neglected . In this phase, the players no longer have any control over their behavior , since the compulsion to play already dominates their own lives.
Addiction usually develops in three phases
1. The entry phase (positive experiences)
As a rule, Germans have their first experiences with gambling during leisure activities . If profits are generated in the process, this triggers positive feelings in the respective player. Many then continue to play to further increase their winnings and positive feelings . The stakes are getting higher, and at the same time the risk is increasing . An emotionalization occurs. Winning is treated as a kind of personal success . The more profits that can be booked, the greater the risk of addiction will ultimately be.On the other hand, those who go empty handed with their first bets usually quickly leave their hands behind intensified gambling.
2. The losing phase (critical adaptation)
When a gambler threatened by gambling addiction reaches this second level of the development process, he has already reached a gaming frequency that goes far beyond normal . In addition , the amounts used continue to rise . As a consequence of this gaming behavior, there are now clear and, above all, noticeable financial losses . However, the problems that arise are hidden by the focus on the game and their resolution is not tackled . In this phase, those affected deliberately hide their compulsion to gamble and resort to money for living expenses or family savings bank. They also borrow money. This overall behavior causes conflicts of various kinds both in the family and, for example, at work.
3. The Despair Phase (Acute Gambling Addiction)
In this phase, the previously insidious development reaches its climax. Gambling becomes a real compulsion . When deployed, many of those affected are now taking maximum risks . All wealth or possessions can be lost to gambling at this level of development . Losses are no longer a deterrent . Instead, compulsive gamblers believe they can win back lost money . From now on, lying about the gambling addiction and one’s own financial situation are among the typical behaviors.
The financial bottlenecks that arise from gambling and betting bring with them another danger: increasing criminal activity . Because when players are up to their necks in financial difficulties, they quickly turn to criminal activities ( fraud, theft, etc.) to get the money they need to gamble . At the same time, however, in most cases, feelings of guilt and self-loathing also increase. Many of those affected know about their problems with gambling. But you no longer have enough control about their behavior and their lives in order to be able to counteract the addiction in a targeted manner. Professional help is urgently needed here.
What factors influence gambling addiction?
The road to addiction is additionally favored by various factors. In particular, one’s own character and personality traits play a significant role here.
These personal characteristics can have an addiction-promoting effect:
- Unstable personality
- Easily influenced character
- Weakened self-esteem
- Poor conflict management
- Increased impulsiveness
- Narcissistic personality traits
- A comparatively high willingness to take risks
- Existing addiction problems (alcohol, drugs, etc.)
- A tendency to depression
But the social environment is also a factor that should not be neglected. For example, if you have many acquaintances and contacts directly in the gaming milieu or if you do not have intact family relationships and a healthy social environment, this increases the risk of gambling addiction . But the games of chance themselves also have numerous attributes that have an addiction-promoting effect.
That is why gambling itself increases the risk of addiction
Players use virtual currencies or tokens , especially online or in physical casinos . Since you are not playing directly with real money , the inhibition threshold is automatically lowered .
Due to short payment intervals , losses are quickly forgotten or hidden.
The atmosphere of the game environment is designed for the maximum focus and concentration of players on what matters most: the game itself . This motivates visitors from both online gambling sites and classic machines, arcades and casinos.
If profits can be made, this quickly gives rise to the view that high profits are always possible . In addition, profits are often interpreted in such a way that they only became possible through one’s own influence . So there is a learning effect in the opposite sense. – Above all, combinations of games of chance and one’s own interests
exert a special attraction . The best example of this is football betting. This proximity to one’s own hobbies and areas of interest also increases the desire to bet or gamble.
What to do against gambling addiction?
Even if the providers of games of chance have now included measures such as account blocks or deposit limits in their portfolio to preventively counteract the risk of addiction, many of those affected do not manage to free themselves from the gambling addiction . Therefore, professional gambling addiction therapy is often the only way to break out of the vicious circle of gambling addiction. Gambling addiction therapy helps to successfully combat compulsive gambling.
The basic requirement for a successful therapy is the motivation of the gambling addict . This is also the crux of the matter, because experience shows that many of those affected continue to play even when financial and personal ruin is imminent . Only when, for example, the termination of the apartment due to rent arrears ends up in your own mailbox or your spouse files for divorce , are you ready for appropriate therapy.
Both outpatient and inpatient therapies are possible
You can get therapeutic help for gambling addiction in two different ways . Outpatient therapy is recommended when support from family and friends is available . This makes it easier for the therapy patient to return to normal everyday life .
However, if these conditions are not met or if the person concerned has a very high degree of addiction or dependency, inpatient therapy is always recommended. On the one hand, this has the advantage that the gambling addict is not initially confronted with the temptation . On the other hand, there are now numerous clinics available in Germany that offer special treatment methods and programs for gambling addicts.
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