Breaking the Bondage of Addiction

Addictions today have become more common than we dare to accept. Many types of addictions have become socially acceptable, in these morally and spiritually bankrupt times. Good things when misused can turn into addictions.

What is Addiction?

It is dependency on a particular substance or behaviour which is impossible to break without timely intervention. It destroys the person, demoralizes the family and all those associated with him.

Society has a general tendency to consider different kinds of substance abuse as addiction, while ignoring certain behaviour patterns that are equally addictive. Food, shopping, gambling, work, or sex can turn to behaviour addictions and create problems that are just as destructive as substance abuse.

• Workaholics would be shocked if told that work has become their addiction. They believe that frenetic activity is good for mental health and wellbeing. People want to carve out positions of power and honour through their professional accomplishments. What starts as a worthy ambition soon grows into an addiction. Without work they feel enervated and depressed.

• Food becomes an emotional pacifier to satisfy longings, loneliness or low self esteem. People eat when under stress. The act of digesting the food switches off that part of the brain mechanism that makes them tense. The rise of serotonin when food is taken makes them feel good. Those who live alone and are sad or depressed are vulnerable. One woman who was eating all the time said, “I miss my husband, and my stomach does not know the difference between hunger and love.” Frenzy feeding is an addiction. It is a vicious cycle. When a depressed person snacks, his blood sugar rises and he feels good. But insulin shoots up in the blood and after a while, blood sugar falls. So he feels depressed again and reaches for a hot chocolate or a cookie.

• Gambling: Lotteries, playing cards, number games, casino games, betting at the races or even cricket matches and other sporting events can become addictive. Even losing money doesn’t deter them. They believe that luck is just around the corner. The adrenaline rush overshadows the guilt of money lost and debts piling up.

• Shopaholics are compulsive buyers. Whenever they are angry or frustrated, they find release in purchasing a pair of shoes or an expensive dress, irrespective of the money and time wasted. It makes them snap out off their moods.

• Relationships: Some people develop an over dependence on a particular person to make them feel complete or fulfilled. This may lead to stalking, threatening or harming the very person they claim to love.

• Sexual addiction is when the need for sex becomes a compulsive obsession whether marital, extramarital or same sex. 44% of sex addicts are embarrassed by what they do, but can’t help themselves nor will they seek treatment. Fetishes, pornography, rape, frottage (pawing women) flashing, are some of the ways by which they get their orgasm. This addiction is to the neurochemical changes that occur during sex. Sex addiction in women is becoming a major problem.

• Mood altering chemicals like cocaine, heroin, LSD, amphetamines, ketamine, and prescription drugs like cough syrups, sedatives, tranquillizers are habit forming. Even caffeine (one cup of coffee contains 150mgs of caffeine) is addictive. Drugs provide a feeling of well being and a false sense of power and control.

• Alcohol is a threat to modern civilization. With free availability, younger age groups are becoming hooked on alcohol. Alcoholism is said to decrease the life span of a person by twelve years. It is a depressant that affects the central nervous system immediately. No doubt it temporarily reduces tension and brings about relaxation. But in the long run, it destroys a person mentally and physically.

• Smoking is a habit very difficult to kick. It has damaging effects on liver, heart and is implicated in the cause of cancer.

All addictions, whether behavioural or chemical, are destructive. They gradually rob one of will power or self control. With drugs and alcohol, the body becomes tolerant to small amounts. So, larger quantities are needed. Mixing of drugs enhances potency, but also increases dangers. Health deteriorates. There is loss of control and inability to manage one’s affairs. Even routine jobs are difficult to perform. Behaviour becomes erratic.

Causes of Addiction:

1. Friends or family members may introduce the young impressionable teen to a glass of beer or a cigarette. This may be the beginning of a love for these substances. Recently, the case of a brandy guzzling child of five was reported. His parents started giving him brandy every day to ward off asthmatic attacks.

2. Keeping wrong company. Peer pressure can be very persuasive.

3. Disorganized home environment where parents are poor role models. There is no love, warmth or appreciation of a sensitive child. Parents may quarrel frequently or there may be domestic violence.

4. Poor and unsafe neighborhoods where drunkenness, violence and abusive behaviour is a way of life.

5. Lack of direction with no moral standards to live by. Young people can be easily influenced into wrong ways.

6. Glorification of alcohol, drugs and vices through films, TV, advertisements.

7. Easy availability of alcohol and drugs.

How to break the bondage of Addiction:

• By first admitting that one has a problem with either substances or behaviour; that life is fully out of control; that there is loss of dignity.

• By seeking help from trained counselors or psychiatrists. They will help to get to the root of the problem – Injustice? Fear? Worthlessness? Anger? Life is not a bed of roses.

Everybody has problems, but one must learn to deal with them without the aid of substances. It is important to be conscious of one’s vulnerabilities.

• Approach for alcohol and substance abuse is multidisciplinary. It needs admission to a facility dealing exclusively with these problems. Medical measures will involve detoxification and treatment of withdrawal symptoms.

Psychological management will be through:

1. Counseling individually, by which he is psychologically conditioned to stay away from drugs or alcohol. Each member of his family must also cooperate with the addict’s treatment, through love, understanding and compassion.

2. Group therapy will help the addict realize that he is not alone and that there are others in a similar situation. Here there is mutual understanding, acceptance, sharing of individual problems and sympathy.

3. Sociotherapy involves teaching the addict effective methods of adjustment to normal life. He should not be left in a high risk environment. Community reinforcements like recreation clubs, Alcoholics Anonymous, and job availability will be helpful.

Rehabilitation can be a long and hard battle depending on whether the addiction is to a substance or behaviour. It depends on the addict’s desire and determination to be cured, and the support he receives from his loved ones. Relapses may occur. But there must be the will to start all over again. Sometimes it may be a life long struggle especially with drug addicts and alcoholics. Therefore finding support groups is important.

Along with therapy, dependence on God is essential. A daily walk with God will strengthen a person enough to surmount the injustices of life, and dispel lurking fears.

The seeds of addiction are within all human beings. We need to periodically examine ourselves and see if there are things we find difficult to let go, and which have the potential to turn into addictions.

Gambling Addiction Basics

The coming age has brought with it numerous new pathological addictions, one of them being addiction to gambling. Pathological gambling was conferred with the status of a disease by the American Psychiatric Association back in 1980s. Robert L. Custer, M.D., is a pioneer in this field of problem gambling.

People who fall prey to this addiction are usually those who secure an income by means of blackjack, poker or other gambling activities. They are professional players who visit casinos not for fun sake, but to employ their skills and earn.

Based on their way of playing and the driving force behind it, gamblers can be categorized. For example, while professional gamblers are skillful and good in their game a casual gamblers plays merely for recreation.

The symptoms of gambling addiction are usually hard to identify. Since this disease is different from other substance related addictions like drug or alcohol abuse, the indications of this sickness are subtle. The nearest possible way in which the symptoms of this addiction can be stated is through the “Custer three Phase Model”. According tot his model, the gambling addiction can be characterized by three phases: the wining phase, the losing phase and the desperation phase.

In the wining stage, the compulsive gambler is ecstatic and overexcited with this earnings and is unwilling to quit gambling. Therefore, the addict usually increases his intensity of gambling . However, losing being the other half of gambling, his wining streak is short-lived. Nonetheless, recurrent losses do not deter him as he wants to win again and get his money back. Addicted gamblers suffer from financial stress, loss of sleep, and mental fatigue in this phase. They face problems at the family front. The patient also tends to borrow huge amounts or avail some money making schemes. As the gambler continues to face loss on every alternate day, he finds it difficult to stay away from gambling. Compulsive gamblers may resort to any means to raise funds for their obsession. They become desperate, with their debts becoming unmanageable. Loss of jobs, fight with friends and family, committing crimes or suicidal tendencies define this phase.

The question as to why does one gamble, can not be answered in definitive terms. One of the dominant reasons is the mental health of the gambler. For some people gambling serves as a n escape route from their lives. A compulsive gambler plays for kicks. He is just unable to stay away from it. Many researchers also blame the easy accessibility to casinos. The government and its lottery fund is also widely condemned.

Treatment programs and centers exist to treat this disease. Regular therapy and counseling is an effective and a widely used technique to cure this disease. Various support groups have also cropped up, where the addicts share their experiences and strengthen each others desire to quit gambling. Some groups that fund such programs include casinos and state lotteries. Some casinos lay stress on responsible gambling and have taken steps to make the people aware about his addiction.

However the first step, before undertaking nay treatment would be to acknowledge this disease. With very slight symptoms and effects this addiction is difficult to catch and acknowledge. Hence it helps to be aware to act wisely.

The Dangers Of Gambling Abuse And Addiction

So, how do you know if you or someone you love have a gambling problem?

First of all it’s important to note that compulsive gambling is a psychological condition that makes people unable to control their desire to gamble. Many crave the feeling they have when they gamble and seek this experience on a daily basis, no matter whether they’re on a winning or losing streak.

Compulsive gamblers may start betting small amounts, but sooner or later start to wager higher bets in order to get the same feelings of excitement they had when they first started playing. Compulsive gamblers often feel agitated and restless if they are unable to gamble and can feel a strong desire to gamble when other aspects of their lives are weighing them down. Compulsive gamblers may also believe that gambling is the only way to pay off debts and keep believing that it’s only a matter of time before they hit the elusive jackpot. Some compulsive gamblers may find themselves lying to friends and families and in some cases stealing money or goods to pay for their gambling habit.

Not all compulsive gamblers will exhibit each of these qualities, but if you recognise just a few of these in yourself or someone close to you then it could be time to seek help.

Compulsive gambling is treatable and there are a number of wonderful organisations set up to deal specifically with this problem.

Gamblers Anonymous is probably the most well-known and widespread and is based on a 12-step program similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous. Members meet on a regular basis to share experiences and listen to each others stories and you will find that there are literally hundreds of Gamblers Anonymous groups situated all over the world. Go to the Gamblers Anonymous website for more information (www.gamblersanonymous.com) or check your local newspaper.

Gam-Anon is another well-respected self-help organization whose motto is “serenity, courage, wisdom. “Their website provides a solid resource into the issues surrounding compulsive gambling and meetings are held regularly. (www.gam-anon.org).

The National Council on Problem Gambling is a government sponsored organization with branches across the USA. The website also has a lot of information which you may find useful. (www.ncpgambling.org).

Other countries will also have their own groups and organizations which may be publicly or privately run. Again check your local newspaper or phone book for more information.

Remember, compulsive gambling is a mental health issue for which there is help and support. If you feel that gambling is dominating your life in a way that is harmful or unhealthy, then perhaps its time to talk to someone about it.

Gambling: Fun That Leads To Addiction?

Is gambling really just innocent fun? We all know that many are addicted and that casinos make billions of dollars. Every addicted gambler started out with the idea of risking a little bit of innocent money, with the idea in the back of their mind that they might rake in a big win. After all, the winners are advertised with a big smile on their faces. Why not me? And when you have beginner’s luck, then you want to experience that again. After so many losses you know that some luck is bound to come your way. And you start liking the clinging of the coins and every time that happens, you feel, or think to feel a bit of paradise. Your money for nothing and your chicks for free. Hooray! By then you stubbornly ignore the fact that you are beginning to get hooked. You do not count what the losses amount to. You do admit that in the end the house always wins, but you keep hoping for that one big bang. Except if that should occur, you would gamble with even greater antes. This may serve to illustrate what has happened to countless poor souls.

The combination of gambling and psychological pain is the most dangerous one. People lapse into spending sprees out of pain, or into binging. Others into alcoholism or a gaming addiction, or even an innocent looking sports mania. Again others start experimenting with drugs, or sex. Many develop dependencies of several of these. Once you are trapped, you are caught by a vicious circle of temporary relief and the subsequent hangover. Only to try it again. The longer this cycle persists, the harder it is to break. Realize that you are fleeing into a surrogate and seek help to get to the causes. In many cases an antidepressant might help. But get over your shame and find professional help. Above all pray to the Lord Jesus for rescue.

Gambling on websites at home is inviting the devil. People run up high costs on their credit cards and the owners laugh all the way to the bank. They do not care about your losing your home and even your wife and children. Many gamblers develop co-morbidities such as alcoholism and drug addictions. Prostitution is a ‘normal’ thing in such circles. Most governments have legalized some form of gambling and many clubs, charities and shops offer tickets to lure prospects to their goods or services. I do not condemn these forms of gambling. I myself once won an expensive computer with all kinds of accessories. Also I won some small prizes with bingo. But at a certain moment I began buying more and more lottery tickets. And from there the step was small to try my hand at one of those one armed thieves in restaurants. The next step was to try out the casino. After a number of years I realized that I ran the danger of getting dependent permanently. So I stopped abruptly and started praying for total deliverance and having somebody else pray for that. I felt that I got out no day too soon and I have to admit that when I see one of those machines, I experience that it still attracts me. Gambling is one of the most stubborn addictions. Stop radically while you can. Or else find help.

Let us analyze gambling from a Christian perspective. We lost paradise and now we desire to compensate. This is called the pursuit of happiness. However there is only lasting happiness in a close relationship with Christ Jesus. Most gamblers develop a superstitious habit or even think that they have found a way to beat the machine. Many books have been written that advertize supposedly clever ways to turn the odds around in your favor. Except the only person to benefit from such a book is the author. Then there is the autotheistic attitude that makes you believe that you can best the odds. Also gamblers play god as if they have all the money in the world. Let the money roll, you have enough of it! One gambler ran five machines automatically by jamming the buttons after having filled them with much cash. He let them run till all his money was gone and then he went home broke to beg his mother for some bucks to buy a pack of cigarettes. Like little gods they think they can transcend chance and machinery as if they were magicians. This is the sin of the garden of Eden in which Eve was made to believe she could be like God. People get used to the surroundings and all the gambling appurtenances in casinos. This is my home. Here I belong. Here is my family. In Vegas there is even a priest that blesses the gambling machines with holy water. Unholy! Talk about surrogate religion…

Many people gamble at the stock market. Others gamble at women. Some Christians claim that a game of cards is from the devil and even that when you have it in your home, you are not a Christian family. It is the devil’s picture book and the joker represents the devil and other such tales. This is a bounce reaction of course. Some even go so far as stating that playing yahtzee is evil as one uses dice. They claim that the soldiers that gambled over Christ’s robe at the cross, used dice. Some think that the Urim and Thumim of the high priest, used to consult God, were actually dice to determine a lot or decision. In this context one can also think of the stone with seven eyes in the book of Zachariah. However that may be gamblers start believing that life is a bet and that in fact everything is. Gambling as religion, philosophy and lifestyle.

Solomon stated that “wealth gotten out of vanity, diminishes; but he that gathers handful by handful, increases.” Money should go where it should go, but society has become sick with financial buggery. Many resort to chain letters. Others to pyramid schemes or other criminal activities. We must strive to build something up patiently, for most of us will not come up with something that turns into something big overnight. Paul warns: “Love of money is a root of all evil” and “They that desire to become rich, fall into a trap and many temptations.”

Instead of all this, let us direct our hearts heavenward and seek true and lasting joy. The prophet stated that our joy in the Lord is our strength. And we need strength to make it through this world. We have a race to run and therefore must not be distracted by unnecessary business, let alone sins. Also we are called upon to fight for the faith once delivered to the saints. Let us admonish, exhort and encourage each other!

Slot Machine Addiction

With modern slot machines there's a greatest potential for a dangerous side effect; gambling addiction as more people are addicted to slots than any other form of gambling. The modern slots are like hightech video games that play music and scenes from TV shows. You can play hundreds of lines at once and instead of pulling a handle you bet by pushing buttons which means each bet can be completed in as little as 3.5 seconds.

It looks like great fun but it can be dangerously addictive. Whether or not it's their intention the gambling industry is designing machines that can addict people.

One MIT Anthropology Professor had studied gambling addiction for over 15 years. She's interviewed gamblers, casino owners and slot machine designers.

One question we put to her was – Do you think that most people would even think that a machine could addict you, that a machine can do the same thing that a drug could?

Answer: What addiction really has to do is with the speed of the rewards and these machines they're packing 1200 hands per hour into play. You're being exposed as you can see that being exposed to a higher dose because all that speed means more bets and that means more excitement.

Another core aspect of their addictiveness is their continuous nature. You're not interrupted by anything. You're not waiting for the horses to run. You're not waiting for the guy next to you to choose his card to put down. There's no one in that wheel spinning it's just you and the machine. It's a continuous flow without interruption.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada measured how players respond physiologically while they gamble and show that the new machines can make them think they're winning even when they're not. The gamblers almost always get some many back. If he puts in a dollar he might get back 50 cents but the sounds and flickering lights trick his brain into thinking he came out ahead. "The constant feeling of winning creates so much pleasure". The regular players can slip in a trance like state, a place she calls the zone.

So if you want to play the slots or the electronic roulette machines please take precautions by limiting the amount of time spent playing also the amount of money you risk. Play moderately for enjoyment rather that the financial gain.

Why is Slot Machine Gambling Considered "The Crack Cocaine" of Gambling Addiction?

Why is slot machine gambling so addictive? Why is it coined the “crack cocaine of addiction”? Why is slot machine gambling considered to be the MOST addictive form of gambling that exists today?

I will try to answer these questions in this article. The questions are quite significant, and the answers can help to explain why so many people have gotten hooked on the “slots”, “pokies”, and “fruit machines”.

Slot machines use what is known to psychological behaviorists as “intermittent reinforcement” Basically, what this means is that a winning hand on a slot machine only happens sometimes.

This type of reinforcement is known to be very powerful because an individual is only rewarded at certain intervals. This can create an addictive reaction , resulting obsession quite easily. When you reward only sometimes., it is sure to create an obsessive reaction.

In addition, studies have shown that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in developing a gambling addiction. Dopamine is known as the “feel good” chemical. The illusions of patterns in slot machines, and the intermittent winning spins create a rush of dopamine in the brain that makes people desire continued play.

You have probably heard in the past that gambling addicts are “addicted to the action”and not really as interested in winning money like they may think they are. This is because the dopamine rush is so powerful and pleasurable, that the action of gambling becomes euphoric in its’ own right. It is a means it itself rather than a means to an end.

The role of dopamine is in the brain is very significant and powerful. Individuals with Parkinsons Diseases who were taking medications to increase dopamine in their brains were becoming addicted to gambling, specifically, slot machine gambling. Once these individuals stopped the medication, their addictive and obsessive gambling stopped. This happened to a significant amount of people taking these types of medications.

Slot machine addiction is considered to be the “crack cocaine” of gambling for a few different reasons.

Crack cocaine is one of the most highly addictive drugs that exists today. Slot machine gambling is also considered to be the most addictive form of gambling… hands down.

The two can also be compared to each other because of the very quick, accelerating progression of the addiction. A person can hit total despair and devastation with a slot machine addiction in one to three years. Other forms of gambling do not accelerate as quickly.

Another comparison is how both forms of addiction can create such debasement, despondency and despair because of the power and intensity of the addictive substance/behavior.

Stealing, prostitution, drugs, loss of job, marriage, and finances are common with both of these addictions. You may have heard horror stories of individuals with either of these addictions. These stories are all too common.

As you can see, it is very easy to compare slot machine addiction to crack cocaine addiction. The common characteristics of both addictions is quite impressive.

Why is Slot Machine Addiction Considered The MOST Addictive Form of Gambling?

This question is related to the above two areas that I have covered, except for a few other concepts which I believe are worth noting:

o Slot machines are designed by psychologists and other specialists who are specifically instructed to design slot machines to seduce and addict people.

o The new video mulit-line electronic slot machines have graphics and colors that are very compelling and stimulating to the eye.

o The music in video slot machines is very stimulating, repetitive, seductive , and truly reinforcing. There is strong subliminal suggestion in this.

o The bonus rounds in video slot machines can encourage continued play, even amidst great losses, since bonus rounds are very exciting and provide a rush.

o The speed of play, and the speed of modern slot machines keeps your adrenaline pumping, especially with all of the above factors.

o The jackpots in slot machines can be huge, however, the chances of winning these jackpots are equivalent to winning the powerball lottery, if not more improbable.

o Slot machines can be a place to “zone out”. Today’s slot machines can put you into a hypnotizing trance that is hard to break out of.

o Slot machines require little or no skill, making it easy to just sit there and push the buttons, without a thought, forethought, or contemplation.

o It is very easy to keep playing slot machines because all accept dollar bills, and give players coupons upon ending play. Money loses its’ value and becomes “monopoly” money.

o ATM Machines are usually in close proximity to the slot machines, again, encouraging continued play.

o Many slot machines use denominations of 1 cent to 5 cents. This fools the gambler into thinking that they are not spending much. What is not being said, however, is that the maximum bet can be as high as $15 to $20 per spin. Is this really a penny or nickel machine?