Spider Solitaire Addiction

Addiction: Merriam-Webster defines it as “Compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”.

That’s right. People are addicted to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. That’s why there are so many ways offered to wean yourself from these additions. People are addicted to other things too such as food (chocolate ranks up high in food addictions), and gambling. There are all these programs available to help people get weaned from these addictions — alcoholics anonymous, overeaters anonymous, gamblers anonymous…

A newer addiction is the addiction to the computer. People can spend hours surfing the web, or playing the latest computer games.

But the biggest addiction seems to be to Spider Solitaire. It’s so readily available. It comes for free with every Window’s installation. It takes just a few minutes to learn. You start with just one suite. Quickly move up to two suites. And then begins the challenge… Four Suites! That’s when the addiction comes. The game allows you to backtrack as many moves as you want — even all the way to the beginning of the game. You can spend hours just retrying the same game but when that game ends, whether win or lose, you’ll quickly press “new game” and start all over.

I have done a little research onto how the game has affected people’s lives. Answers I have received:

  • I stayed up all night playing
  • I didn’t take the dog for his walk (what a mess!)ï’· Supper burned (lucky for the smoke alarm)
  • Forgot to pick up my kids from school
  • Spent a full day at work just playing
  • Missed a full day of work
  • _______________________ Write in your own — no one’s immune.

The Solution

Everybody’s gone through it. There are no simple solutions. No special gum. No patches. No clinics. No support groups (who could pull themselves away from Spider to get to a group meeting). There’s only one solution. Delete the game from your computer. The one at work too. Do a good search to make sure you’ve deleted any instance of it. Then just pick up a new computer addiction (try Facebook). No other computer addiction is as bad as Spider Solitaire.

Recovery From Addiction Through Basic Mindfulness

Introduction

Currently, there is no clear consensus among health professionals in precisely defining addiction. Historically, it has been defined narrowly only in relation to psychoactive substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Increasingly in recent years, however, many dysfunctional behavioral patterns that are not specifically substance-based are viewed by many professionals also as “addictions.” Some common examples are addictions to: gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, video games, watching TV, dieting, internet use, work, exercise, shopping, cutting/burning oneself, etc.

A common unifying theme with the victims of all of these disorders is how powerfully and repetitively they are internally driven to engage in the particular activity that defines their addiction.

There is, moreover, growing evidence from neuroscience research that the neurophysiology of ALL addictive disorders, whether substance-based or behavioral, is very similar in many ways. Endorphins (or endogenous morphine), for example, as well as key transmitter substances such as dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin are common mediating factors in all of these disorders.

The prevalence of these addictions in the modern world is staggeringly high. In the U.S. alone 15.1 million people are addicted to alcohol, 4 million to drugs, and over 20% of the population is still addicted to tobacco.

Although there is no reliable way to estimate the total prevalence of all the behavioral addictions, there is abundant evidence that they are extremely common. As a matter of fact, there are probably very few people alive today who are not subject to some form of addictive behavior.

In this regard, answering the following question with complete honesty will help you determine if you may be one of them: Do I ever feel driven to engage in any form of behavior that I personally regard as self-defeating or harmful and about which I later feel guilt, shame, embarrassment and/or remorse to some degree?

A New Way to Understand Addictions

The following formulation, although grossly oversimplified in many ways, is intended to help provide an initial rough framework for understanding how Basic Mindfulness offers a highly effective way to deconstruct the brain/mind formations that underlie all addictive behaviors.

Like all other creatures on this planet, humans universally tend to seek pleasure and to avoid or escape from pain. Although these two extremely strong genetic instincts have been and continue to be essential to survival, they are also the extremely fertile common ground in which all addictive behaviors become strongly rooted and sustained.

The basic habit patterns that comprise the core of these addictions start developing out of these intrinsic propensities in a very natural and lawful way even before we are born and continue to proliferate from that point onward.

The twin principles that govern their natural initial development can be stated quite simply, although they progressively evolve into highly complex and subtle brain/mind processes that are much more challenging to understand.

Principle #1: Whenever we do anything that is followed by an increase in subjective pleasure or satisfaction, the probability that we will do it again increases to some degree. In general, the probability of recurrence of such a behavior is proportional to the degree of pleasure/satisfaction experienced.

Each subsequent repetition of this particular sequence further increases the probability of its future recurrence or its “habit strength.” As it continues to develop, it will tend to become increasingly streamlined or “automatic,” requiring progressively less conscious awareness and/or intentionality for its occurrence. An automatic habit pattern that has developed primarily in this way will be referred to here as a pleasure-seeking reaction.

Principle #2: Whenever we do anything that is followed by a decrease in subjective physical/emotional pain, discomfort or dissatisfaction, the probability that we will do it again also increases slightly. Again, this increment in the probability of recurrence is generally proportional to the degree of reduction in subjective pain/dissatisfaction that is experienced.

Each subsequent repetition of this sequence similarly increases the probability of its future recurrence or its “habit strength.” As this happens, it will also become progressively more automatic as described above. This type of automatic habit pattern will be referred to here as a terminating reaction.

As used above, the words, “do anything,” refer to external behaviors as well as to their internal representations -i.e., the emotional feelings, mental imagery and/or self-talk to which they give rise. Typically, these internal representations are strongly linked to the external behavioral reactions from which they are derived and thus become a key part of the overall reactive pattern. Very commonly, they also play an important part in activating the external behavioral part of the reaction.

For example, thinking about/imaging a piece of chocolate cake in the refrigerator will tend to activate the corresponding pleasure-seeking reaction of actually eating it. Similarly, if you have a headache, your terminating reaction of taking an aspirin is highly likely to be preceded by thinking, for example, “I need an aspirin,” and/or an image of taking one and getting relief.

As nearly everyone knows from much personal experience, reliving a pleasure-seeking reaction in imagery tends to activate–at least to some degree-subtle feelings of pleasure; conversely, reliving a terminating reaction in imagery similarly tends to activate subtle feelings of getting relief from pain/discomfort. The same is true of anticipatory imagery and/or engaging in internal self-talk about future occurrences of pleasure or pain.

For example, someone experiencing a lot of stress at work may repeatedly imagine what she is going to do when the weekend comes and/or think repetitiously, “I can hardly wait to….” Both of these internal processes can be understood as subtle, garden-variety internal terminating reactions. It’s very important to understand that they also commonly occur very automatically, without any conscious awareness.

Within this framework, then, an addictive behavior can be defined as any pleasure-seeking reaction, terminating reaction, or a combination of both that is significantly harmful to oneself and/or others and that has become sufficiently strong and automatic that it effectively overrides-at least on some occasions– one’s intentionally conscious efforts to suppress or control it.

By this definition, all addictions cause pain-physical and/or emotional; and since pain tends to activate automatic terminating reactions, this sets up a self-perpetuating process or “vicious circle.”

Consider, for example, an alcoholic who chronically worries about how to pay his bills and who has had a highly stressful week at work. Predictably, this triggers a strong terminating reaction of stopping for “happy hour” at his favorite bar, where he ends up getting drunk, spending a large part of his paycheck, and staying until the bar closes.

His wife, expecting him to come home to participate in a special birthday celebration for one of their children, becomes very emotionally upset, as do all of the children. They are traumatized further by the loud argument that ensues between their parents after he finally gets home.

When he wakes up the next morning, he has a terrible hangover and is filled with intense guilt, shame, and self-loathing about what he has done. His baseline level of emotional pain, which he temporarily terminated through ingesting a large amount of alcohol, has now increased tremendously-far above its original high base level.

Given this level of pain, it is extremely likely that the same terminating reaction will be quickly reactivated, setting off another addictive round in this tragically vicious circle.

How Basic Mindfulness Fosters Recovery from Addiction

Mindfulness meditation was originally discovered in India over 25 centuries ago by a young prince named Siddhartha Gautama, who later became known as the Buddha. He made this discovery after five years of intensively searching for an effective way to end suffering. He subsequently spent 40 years teaching this method to his many followers. Since then it has been practiced ardently by hundreds of millions of people-mainly in Asian countries.

Since it was successfully introduced into Western countries a few short decades ago, it has quickly merged into the cultural mainstream-especially in areas such as psychology, medicine, education, and generalized personal development. At this point, it has also become a very hot topic in Neuroscience research.

A Definition of Basic Mindfulness

Basic Mindfulness, as I will refer to it here, consists of three powerful interrelated mental skills:

1) Concentration power;

2) sensory clarity; and

3) equanimity.

With adequate guidance and through disciplined practice, this skill set can be developed to a very high degree by nearly anyone. Once acquired, it can be applied effectively to every area of one’s life.

In particular, it is a means second to none for enhancing conscious awareness and thus become liberated from a wide array of highly automatic and unskillful habit patterns-which, very importantly, includes all addictions. Likewise, it provides a way to enjoy all of life’s pleasures much more fully, while also offering a very powerful means of coping with all forms of physical and mental pain.

Here are brief definitions of the three sub-skills of Basic Mindfulness:

Concentration power is defined simply as the ability to attend selectively and consistently to whatever you consider as relevant at any given time.

Sensory clarity consists in being consciously aware of, and perceiving clearly, all of the endlessly changing external and internal sensory events to which we are subject continuously.

Very importantly, this includes the subtle internal mental states mentioned previously that are incorporated into pleasure-seeking and terminating reactions. These transient states typically occur very automatically and with little or no conscious awareness.

Without mindfulness training, an average person will not perceive them clearly for what they are, but rather will typically experience them as a powerful and highly compelling urge to behave addictively in order to get relief. As a result, then, they commonly give rise to highly automatic and unskillful behavioral reactions.

These internal states fall into three basic categories:

1) Emotional feelings in the body;

2) mental imagery; and

3) verbal thinking

Equanimity entails letting go of negative judgments about what you are experiencing and consciously replacing them with an attitude of loving acceptance and gentle matter-of-factness. Effectively, then, it allows our internal mental processes to flow without resistance or interference.

Very importantly, equanimity does NOT in any way imply apathy. Actually, in fact, it is the opposite of apathy in that it frees up internal energy to respond more fully and consciously to external situations.

It is also the opposite of suppression in that it entails radical permission to feel. With regard to expressing feelings externally, however, it empowers one to choose skillfully what is most appropriate to her/his particular life situation.

How Basic Mindfulness Helps in Recovery from Addictions

In keeping with the introductory nature of this article, the following brief description is intended to convey only an initial understanding of the formal practice of Basic Mindfulness and how it can help in recovery from addictions. What it highlights, however, will hopefully help readers recognize some of its unique potential in this regard. (Much more comprehensive information about this approach is provided through my blog, mentioned below.)

The formal practice of Basic Mindfulness is most commonly carried out with eyes gently closed while seated in an upright, but relaxed, posture.

The duration of a typical mindfulness practice session ranges from 10 to 45 minutes. After a few weeks of basic training, more extended periods of practice can accelerate one’s progress greatly. This is commonly carried out in “retreat” settings that are specifically set up to support this type of more intense practice for periods ranging from a few consecutive hours up to several days, or even weeks.

The initial phase of practice emphasizes concentration power, which is of key importance in subsequently developing both sensory clarity and equanimity.

Concentration power then functions much like an internal microscope, allowing one to become clearly and continuously aware of all external and internal sensory events-very importantly, including emotional feeling, mental images, and verbal self-talk.

As an aid to this continuous, detailed observation, the meditator formally “notes” these sensory states with a simple sub-vocal label (e.g., “feel,” “image,” “talk,” etc.). In doing so, s/he also “embraces” all of them lovingly and equally with deep equanimity-that is, with complete acceptance and non-reactivity.

This state of equanimity arises very naturally as a result of applying concentration and includes, very importantly, deep body-mind relaxation. As such, it is intrinsically comforting and satisfying and, for people who are addicted, it often gives rise to the dramatic insight that what they have been compulsively seeking through external addictive objects is actually abundantly available from within.

Through this highly focused and non-reactive observational process, internal states that were previously experienced as being vaguely global, static and overpowering are clearly re-perceived as nothing other than an impersonal and impermanent flow of subtle mental events. Shinzen Young, who is a master teacher of Basic Mindfulness, sometimes refers to this highly empowering process of fine-grained perception as a “divide and conquer” strategy.

In the traditional practice of mindfulness, this simple process of systematically bringing clear, highly discriminating awareness and equanimity to internal sensory states that have been previously out of awareness has been found to be powerfully “purifying.” That is, it gradually-or sometimes quite suddenly and dramatically-reduces or eliminates completely the potential of these internal states to activate automatic unskillful reactions.

This application of Basic Mindfulness, then, provides a powerful means of recovery from all forms of addiction. Interestingly in this regard, it effectively utilizes pure awareness as a “higher power” instead of relying on ego-based “will power,” which has repeatedly proven to be highly ineffective in achieving lasting recovery.

Noah Levine, author of the book, Dharma Punx, is an outstanding exemplar of someone who has made a highly impressive recovery from severe drug addiction through the intensive practice of mindfulness. For more in-depth information and guidance in applying mindfulness to recovery from addiction, please visit my blog, “Wise Ways to Happiness.”

The 12 Steps To Recovery From Sex Addiction

Recovering from a sex addiction requires adhering to a 12 step program. Such programs have become synonymous with people’s efforts to change their lives and behaviors, and have been applied to everything including over-eating, sex, compulsive gambling, and drug addiction.

The original 12 step program was published by Alcoholics Anonymous in the late 1930s to treat addiction to alcohol. Since then, it has been adapted and directed towards other forms of addiction and compulsive behaviors and has been recognized by the American Psychological Foundation. Small details within each 12 step program change depending on what’s being treated, but all follow the same template. While there is debate on what defines addiction, many agree that the brain becomes dependent on chemicals either imbibed (alcohol) or produced naturally through a behavior, such as sex or gambling.

The 12 Steps:

Step one is the sex addict admitting they have no power over their sex addiction and that their lives have gotten out of control. This step essentially defines a sex addiction, a situation where a person no longer can control their sexual behavior despite it causing them problems. This may sound facetious, but if a sex addict could control their behavior, they would not be an addict. Admitting powerlessness also opens the door to getting outside help. A person with a broken leg does not try to mend it on their own, they call a doctor because they do not have the skills to heal themselves. It is no different with a sex addiction.

Step two is acknowledging there is a “higher power” that can help the addict with their addiction. This and the next step may be two of the least understood, as “higher power” generally refers to God. While many going through the 12 step program turn to the Christian faith, anything can serve as the higher power. A person can look to the sun, a favorite object, anything they can mentally equate with a power above themselves. Some neurologists have said the human brain is hardwired towards religion, and because of this it can be used as a powerful tool in influencing behavior.

A higher power plays the role of a neutral yet supportive third part in the sex addict’s life. It is not the addicts themselves, nor is it their therapist, nor is it a loved one the addict may have wronged or someone who will judge them.

The third step is giving themselves over to that higher power, as they understand it. Many sex addicts begin reading the Bible and attending religious services of their faith. Others will take up a different spiritual text as their understand of their higher power. The book or the faith or belief is not important here, what is important is that the reliance on self get turned over to a reliance on a higher power. Most religions have set guidelines on sexual conduct, as well as other aspects of life, and make for a ready made code of conduct a person can adhere to, at least until their lives are under their control once more.

Step four is where the sex addict gets to the “nitty gritty” of their problem and comes to see what it looks like from the outside by completing a “moral inventory” of themselves. This inventory documents their life and how and when their sexual habits, failings, and other common behaviors began in an effort to see the big picture and have an accurate understanding of what it is. Typically, a deadline is put on this step, as many addicts tend to get hung up on it, either because they find it difficult to examine themselves this way, or feel the need to be too thorough.

The fifth step involves taking that inventory and showing it to someone else, either a spouse, sponsor, clergy or trusted confidant, or even another sex addict further along in their treatment. This is done for a number of reasons. If a sex addict can share this, it means they are comfortable with it to a degree and will be able to open up further because seeing the behavior inventory may not be enough to let the sex addict truly see their problem or recognize patterns in their behavior. When it comes to the familiar, an addict sees what they intend rather than what really is. It’s the same as when an athlete needs a coach to check their stance or swing or attitude for their sport. So the sex addict needs another pair of eyes on their moral inventory to catch things and gain feedback from a different perspective.

Steps six and seven of the original Alcoholics Anonymous version are asking the higher power or God to remove the addict’s defects and to forgive them. Other, more secular minded versions describe these steps as similar transition periods. The sex addict goes from identifying the problem to recognizing that they, themselves, are now past that stage and can now expend energy enacting change. The addict is taught to see that the mistakes have been made cannot be unmade, and wishing to change the past is a waste of energy. While it’s not a “clear slate,” it is a shift of focus onto the present, which can be affected by the sex addict.

Step eight, while at first may seem like a look back, is actually for the addict to compile a list of people their sex addiction has harmed. This may be family they’ve neglected, spouses cheated on, and in extreme cases, victims of their sexual abuse. This step is sometimes broken down into smaller segments, identifying the types of relationships harmed by the sex addiction. In the case of deceased loved ones or people the addict cannot have contact with, this step serves as an emotional release by further letting the addict see the extent of the damage their behavior has caused.

The ninth step is an extension of the eighth, and involves making amends with the people identified in that step, when possible. It could be something as simple as a verbal apology, and may not be something that can be accomplished in a moment, a day, or even months. This step is distinctive to the individuals involved, and not completely possible in all cases.

Step 10 is continuing the list from step five, and admitting when a mistake has been made. This can expand beyond sexual behavior and include any kind of non-desirable actions or emotions. Negative feelings are what led the sex addict to compulsively seek the numbing behavior to start with. And being able to identify those trouble spots and handle them in a way that doesn’t feed a new addiction cycle is key. Sex addiction often comes with other forms of addiction, or can spin off into those other forms if the root cause is not being monitored.

Prayer and meditation are Step 11 in the program. Many call prayer and meditation one and the same, but whichever route the sex addict chooses, they should set aside time each day for quiet reflection. A daily pause is used as an anchor to keep the complexities of the addict’s outside world from becoming overwhelming. This step lets the sex addict remind themselves of their progress and the tools they have to fight their compulsions.

The final step is working with other sex addicts, or passing on some of the knowledge the addict has gained. The selfless side of this is ensures a pool of experienced teachers well versed in the subject matter who can perpetuate the program. The benefit to the addict doing the teaching is the same as to teacher; the one imparting the wisdom in turn learns more about what they’ve come to know. Having to articulate to another person what one has learned makes a person think about benefits in ways they hadn’t before, and leads to greater understanding.

Those are the basic 12 steps found in addiction recovery programs. Many are closely related, but together they show a progression. It should be noted this programs not a “do these 12 things and you’re cured” prescription, but at the higher levels are a lifelong set of behaviors. They may play a less active role in the recovering sex addict’s life as time goes on, but the inventory, meditation, and teaching tend to be in the background for a long time.

Addiction, The Silent Killer

The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction or has tried to help someone else to do so understands why.

Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences.

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable, but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.

The word addiction is used in several different ways. One definition describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect, otherwise known as a tolerance. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs). An alcoholic walking into a bar, for instance, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these cues.

People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful.

Addictions do not only include physical things we consume, such as drugs or alcohol, but may include virtually anything, such abstract things as gambling to seemingly harmless products, such as chocolate – in other words, addiction may refer to a substance dependence (e.g. drug addiction) or behavioral addiction (e.g. gambling addiction).

However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior.

Addiction, often referred to as dependency often leads to tolerance – the addicted person needs larger and more regular amounts of whatever they are addicted to in order to receive the same effect. Often, the initial reward is no longer felt, and the addiction continues because withdrawal is so unpleasant.

When referring to any kind of addiction, it is important to recognize that its cause is not simply a search for pleasure and that addiction has nothing to do with one’s morality or strength of character.

Experts debate whether addiction is a “disease” or a true mental illness, whether drug dependence and addiction mean the same thing, and many other aspects of addiction. Such debates are not likely to be resolved soon.

I’ve Been In And Out Of Addiction Rehab – Now What?

If you have been diagnosed as addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling and have been admitted to an addiction recovery clinic, you are given utmost support to recover from your addiction. The staffs of the rehab centre, as well as your family and friends, are also there to help you get through the addiction treatment process. Now that you have finished your detoxification and addiction treatment, what’s next?

What lies ahead of you? If you are serious about living life anew, you should totally put your addiction to past. You should avoid getting tempted to your addiction again. Don’t get into drugs, alcohol and gambling. The temptation can be strong but you can surely battle it out. These after-treatment pointers will help you out:

o Be committed to change. Unless you personally commits to recovering from addiction, you will go back to your old habits again and again. So tell yourself, that you are finally quitting and there is no way that you are getting back to it.

o Attend an after-treatment therapy. Some addiction recovery clinics offer after-rehab treatments. This is their way of helping the users face life with bright hopes. Sometimes your own experience can serve as inspiration to others who are trying to recover from their own addictions as well. So spend some time sharing your experience at the rehab centre.

o Treasure your health. You should understand that maintaining a healthy body is a prerequisite of happy living. When you start to become conscious of your health, avoiding your addiction – drug, alcohol and gambling – will come naturally. Also start prioritising healthy eating habits. When you eat healthily, your body functions well and you will feel content and happy. No need for drugs, alcohol or gambling to keep your well being high.

o Continue detoxifying. The best way to detoxify the body from all harmful chemicals is to drink plenty of water. It is also believed that water contributes in calming a person’s mood.

o When the craving for alcohol, drugs or gambling haunts you, divert your attention to something else. Try exercising or going out with friends (no drinking alcohol involved).

o Maintain a strong spiritual life. The spiritual aspect of a person is also taken cared of at most addiction rehab centres.

Staying away from your old addiction is easy if you are serious about it. The support which your family and friends give you plays an important role as well.

Gambling Addiction Signs

Gambling addictions are on the rise due to game shows on televisions. Game shows and gambling spots provide the venue for people to bet excessively. In fact you can even place your bet online or by a mere phone call. Compulsive gambling present a grave concern because of money problems, family relationship as well as professional life. There are others who commit suicide when the going gets tough.

Gambling is often associated with the male populace, in some tribal groupings and people with low income. Gambling also induces people to smoke and drink a lot. Gambling addiction is a type of addiction wherein a person loses control over betting and that compulsiveness to pursue the adrenaline or natural high a person often experiences when making a bet. It can direct a person to continually place more bets without thought and care of the things that are going on around him or her.

This type of behavior can be disastrous and affects a person physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Records will show that suicidal attempts have increased from 17 to 24 percent. Gamblers often deny that they are hooked and are not amenable in searching for an expert’s help. Medical practitioners are now advised to ask if any of their patients have gambling habits or activities.

Indicators of gaming obsession are the following: too much preoccupation about gambling, the urge to put increased wagers with the thought that he or she will win back the money he or she has lost, staying behind office works just to bet and not going home at all, an alternative to get away from stress, indebtedness and cheating to get money to support this bad habit. Oftentimes, compulsive gamblers forget their responsibilities and obligations at home.

Gamblers are of two types. The action gamblers are basically males who have started betting in their early years. These types of gamblers have high IQs and have turned to betting to make full use of their intelligence. They are usually into black jack, poker, sports and stocks.

The second type is the escape gamblers and generally composed of women. These types of gamblers are in their 30s or even older. They go into gambling as an outlet for their emotional and physical burden. They usually go for slots machine, bingo or lottery that will not ask for too much from them.

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.

How to End a VLT or Slot Machine Addiction

“Like a vampire seducing its prey, the VLTs were, at first blush, sexy and alluring. They were shiny, flashy, fast, and exhilarating and unfortunately for me, it was love at first sight-not the romantic, beautiful, and healthy love you’d witness in The Notebook, but the obsessive, destructive kind that you’d see in Fatal Attraction.” Gisele Jubinville

Do you or someone you love relate to this quote? The gaming machine addiction, or in other words, an addiction to VLTs or slot machines, is unlike any other gambling addiction. There are very few treatment programs that recognize this. As Gisele Jubinville outlines in her book Dismissed: How one woman’s intuition ended her addiction and exposed a government cover-up, one of the most important elements missing from treatment programs is a basic understanding of how gaming machines work. Losing control of time and money, continuous and excessive play, the inability to make controlled, informed and rational choices, and losing touch with reality are all COMMON and NORMAL experiences for regular VLT and slot machine players.

Let’s look at this statement and how it affects your addiction. One of the most common reactions after a gaming machine binge is self-loathing. Normal healthy internal dialogue switches from compassion and understanding to anger, impatience and judgment. You think, “Why am I so weak?” “What just happened to me?” “I’m such a pathetic mess. How am I ever going to get my money back?” “If someone finds out, they’ll hate me for sure.” “Why do I keep losing my money on these machines? I have no will power. What a failure I am.” These thoughts roll around in your mind, dampening your mood and infesting your self-esteem. Pretty soon, you start to believe them. You believe your addiction is your fault. You determine that you are the only one to blame for your actions and therefore you deserve the internal abuse you put yourself through.

But what if this isn’t the case? What if you are not the only one to blame? What if there are factors that contribute to your addiction that you weren’t even aware of. Did you know that millions of dollars a year are spent by manufacturers of VLTs and slot machines to increase time of play? Psychologists, behavioural scientists, doctors and researchers are hired to sharpen the program inside the machine to undermine the regular player’s ability to play responsibly. If you can’t stop playing the machines, perhaps it’s time you understand that the very ones who designed the programs you are playing actually wanted it that way. They want you to insert your money into their machines and they have done everything they can to achieve this goal. Everything about the machine has been consciously designed to hook you in and keep you there. It is a manipulation that most players are not even aware of.

Most new players are attracted by the potential of winning a jackpot. It’s why new players find VLTs and slot machines entertaining at first. But, over time entertainment turns to entrapment. Regularly playing the machines affects your thinking. Your controlled, rational mind is replaced with an irrational thinking that fools itself into believing you will actually make money on the machines. This is what the program inside the machine wants you think. It has created a scheduled system of reinforcement to condition you to expect, hope for and want the elusive winning jackpot. And it has you thinking it is just around the corner, just another $20 oughta do it. When you play regularly, your normal thinking is replaced with this insane rationalization and you end up chained to the machines.

So yes, take ownership of your addiction. You cannot heal until you do. But consider also that perhaps you are more a victim than you are an addict. When you let this sink in, your internal dialogue will begin to change. Instead of beating yourself up for losing control again, you’ll think, “I am doing exactly what the machines are programming me to do. When I sit in front of a VLT or slot machine, my mind is being affected. The program inside the machine is created with the purpose of keeping me at the machine for as long as possible. Losing control of my time and money is a NORMAL reaction for regular players of these machines.”

As your internal dialogue changes, so too will your actions. The urge to play the machines will start to disappear the more you understand how the machines work. Instead of unsuccessfully trying to force yourself to stay away from the machines, you will naturally want to stay away. Knowledge is freedom. It is a natural and harmonious path to recovery and I encourage you to start researching. It could potentially save your life.

Statistics Difficult To Obtain On Gambling Addiction

In a previous article I wrote about a woman who took her life due to her gambling addiction. The family decided to tell people it was due to personal problems she was having adjusting to living in the United States. She had moved there in June of 1998. Everyone accepted the explanation with out commenting. This is very typical behavior which leads to bad statistical information being presented by local governments.

Gambling addiction is a silent killer that strikes innocent people when they least expect it. It only creates a world of misery with a self destructive behavior. Compulsive gamblers are able to beat their addiction if they have the proper resources.

If governments can not get the true statistics they will never be forced to deal with this addiction. They will continue to raise needed taxes from the gambling establishments. What the government never realized or refused to say is that if their state’s business industry began to thrive the taxes levied against them would be equal to or greater then the amount of revenue generated from the gambling establishments and the state’s lotto.

The government looks for the easiest way out verses taking the time to put a good plan into motion. It’s political suicide to face this addiction head on.

I find it ironic that a new governor will take the time to tell its people that over the next four years we are going to boost our economy and reduce unemployment. There are so many promises made that are not kept that people have lost respect for their political leaders. Those who have been negatively affected by gambling know the truth and need to come forward in order to help others who are living similar lives.

I would like to see one political leader step up and admit their state has a gambling problem. It’s easy to see that doing something like this may cause them to lose their next election. Unfortunately there is no quick fix. Another reason political leaders are afraid to come forward is due to the gambling establishments are run by very powerful people.

When you here rumors that the governor is spending the weekend with the chief of one of the local casinos and a week later the casinos request for expansion is approved. You have to start questioning the motives. How is the state benefiting from this expansion? Do political people only march to those who pay the piper? Is this rumor true or false? Does it matter? Do I care? Does anyone care? I have found people do care but are not willing to get involved. This type of thinking becomes evident after you have a Governor of Connecticut jailed, mayors in multiple towns jailed and other minor infractions by political candidates. All do to pure greed.

Once people decide they have had enough and only then can change occur. Once this change happens, recording of gambling addiction statistics information will improve and governments will be forced to face reality. Then you will see change and people will begin to heal.

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?