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Ludopatía: how to overcome it?

Ludopatía: how to overcome it?

The pathological game, also known by the name of pathological gambling is one of the first forms of “addiction without drugs” that not only attracted the interest of psychology and psychiatry, but also of the media, to the point that often it is still talked about in relation to its most serious consequences on health as the mental imbalance that this type of problems is capable of producing.
In Europe, the rate of people with this disease ranges from 0.5 to 3%, and in Spain the problem players represent 2.5%, that is to say around 750,000 people, and the pathological ones represent at least 1.5% of the population (450,000 population).
To know all the details of this psychological disease, keep reading:


1. What is gambling?
2. Types of players: from addiction to addiction
3. Types of Players
4. Risks and causes of dependence on online games
5. Symptoms of pathological gambling
6.How to overcome addiction to gambling?

What is gambling?

Gambling addiction is a problem or addiction similar to alcoholism or smoking, despite not having the same devastating effects on health, which is characterized by the irresistible desire to experience emotions related to gambling and money. The dependence on games of chance, whether online or physical, can have significant consequences on the social and professional integration of the affected person.
The term “game” refers to those characterized by bets whose potential benefit is left to chance, such as poker and blackjack, roulette, slot machines, bingo, and many others whether online or in real casinos.
The gambler if he can not play can become violent, can also show withdrawal symptoms similar to those of drug addicts, since they have an uncontrollable urge to play, this has developed a strong dependence on this type of entertainment.

Types of players: from addiction to addiction

To begin to identify the indicators of this disease of dependence to games of chance, it is very important to make a distinction between the different types of players. For many people these are only pleasant pastimes on certain occasions or on a regular basis, this does not mean that they suffer from pathological gambling.
The compulsive gambler is the one who has gone through different stages that go from the occasional player to the habitual and ends up in the compulsive one. At this point there is a loss of ability to self-limit their behavior, which ends up creating serious secondary problems that involve different areas of life.

Types of Players

1.Social Player: for him, playing is simply an opportunity to socialize and have fun.
2.  Problem Player: is one who tries to find the solution to their social problems through these types of entertainment.
3. Pathological Player (impulsive and dependent): is the person to whom the impulse to play becomes an uncontrollable need that is accompanied by a strong emotional tension and an inability, partial or total, to use reflective and logical thinking. These types of people are inclined to destructive behavior that is fueled by other serious psychological problems.

Risks and causes of dependence on online games

Numerous studies have tried to identify risk factors of dependence on gambling that turn people into “impulsive players”, considering their interaction with others:
– Biological aspects: mainly related to neuro-physiological factors, that is, the imbalance that could result in the neurotransmitter system in the brain causing the level of production of serotonin (brain chemical responsible for behavior and affective balance) to fall below common level.
–   Environmental and Educational Aspects: related to the education received and the environment in which these people grew up, characterized by problematic situations with a tendency to hyper-value and directly relate happiness to the possession of money, and the presence of economic difficulties, such as For example, unemployment is a risk factor for the onset of pathological gambling.
–    Psychological aspects: they seem to be related to the presence of lustful and greedy personality traits of money, also related to the need to be able to demonstrate control over the fate of the case and, as a symbol of control over the world that goes beyond a regular way

The entertainment methods that seem to predispose to greater risk are those that offer greater spatial and temporal proximity between the bet and the prize, such as slot machines, video poker, bingo, among others.
The causes of pathological gambling go hand in hand with the risk factors because it can be both biological and psychological aspects that a person develops addiction to gambling, as well as environmental and educational aspects that a person imitates behaviors that he sees in your home or grow up developing an obsession with money and bets.
According to the statistics, the most vulnerable segments are women, housewives and self-employed workers, between 40 and 50 years old, and men around 40 years of age, unemployed or self-employed workers who have frequent contact with money or with the sale .
Dependence on gambling, like most other emotional conditions, is understood to be the result of a combination of biological vulnerabilities, ways of thinking, and social stress. However, there are elements that increase the likelihood that the individual will develop an addiction to this type of entertainment. The risk factors for the development of this pathology include schizophrenia, mood problems, antisocial personality disorder, and alcohol or drug addiction.

Symptoms of pathological gambling

When contemplating why people play, it is important to understand that there are usually no specific causes that develop dependence on online games. Some possible exceptions include some individuals who receive medications to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s to develop impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling, shopping or sexual behaviors.
A person suffering from this mental health problem suffers from at least 3 of the following symptoms:
– Addiction to continue betting and every time with more money.
–  Bet money that should not because you need it to cover basic needs.
-Always try to recover the “investment”, keep playing to recover everything lost because he believes that now his luck changed.
– Loss of control, can not stop playing and betting.
– Commit illegal actions or do whatever it takes to get money to continue playing.
–  It puts at risk important relationships, since their priority is always to play and bet.
–  He does not enjoy the bets he makes, because his goal is to earn money.
–   He tends to deny that he has a problem when his family and friends try to help him.
–  It has suicidal tendencies due to the debts that it has obtained betting.

How to overcome addiction to gambling?

The treatment takes a long time and although there is no standardized treatment for this type of dependency, many people participate in Gamblers Anonymous. Recovery programs are personalized and usually go hand in hand with a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and experts in finance and economics.
The player usually participates in individual and group meetings in order to remedy the devastating consequences of this disease. Financial counseling and self-help interventions can be important aspects of the care provided to people with addiction to online games.
In addition, because this disease can come from a mental disorder, some medications have been found that help reduce anxiety and desire to play, these include anti-convulsants such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) and topiramate (Topamax), mood stabilizers such as lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid), and antidepressants such as clomipramine (Anafranil) and fluvoxamine (Luvox). However, psychotherapy seems to be more effective than any of the medications used to treat this disease.
It is also important to inform and educate people about the relationship with money and gambling. Prevention in this area could be a real point of reflection. Finally, if you want more information you can find it in the Attention and Research of Socio-addictions (AIS).