Check Out the Perils of Gambling Addiction in South Africa

Check Out the Perils of Gambling Addiction in South Africa
Check Out the Perils of Gambling Addiction in South Africa

What is a gambling addiction?

It is a mental health issue that can be one of many kinds of impulse-control problems and having many similarities to obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, it is more similar to other addictive disorders. Here is everything you need to know about gambling addiction in South Africa?

There are many types of gambling that people with this disorder might engage in. These include betting on sports, buying lottery tickets, playing poker, slot machines, or roulette are only a few of the activities in which compulsive gamblers engage.

The sites of choice for individuals with gambling addiction vary as well. While many prefer gambling in a casino, the rate of online/Internet gambling addiction continues to increase with increased use of the Internet. Gambling addiction is also known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling. Can a gambling addiction be cured? Is a gambling addiction hereditary? Let’s find out!

Startling facts

Startling facts
Startling facts

Important statistics on problem gambling include that it tends to affect at least 1% of people globally. Teens actually tend to suffer from this disorder at a rate that is twice that of adults.

Although more men than women are thought to suffer from pathological gambling, women are developing this disorder at higher rates, now making up as much as 25% of individuals with pathological gambling.

Other facts about compulsive gambling are that men tend to show this disorder during their early teenage years while women tend to develop it at a later stage. However, the disorder in women then tends to get worse faster rate than in men.

Other apparently gender-based differences in gambling addiction are the tendencies for men to become addicted to more interpersonal forms of gaming, like blackjack, craps, or poker. Women tend to engage in less interpersonally based betting, like slot machines or bingo. Men with pathological gambling tend to receive counseling about problems other than gambling less often than their female counterparts.

Problem gambling usually means gambling that involves more than one symptom but fewer than the at least five symptoms required to qualify for the diagnosis of compulsive or pathological gambling.

Binge gambling is a type of compulsive gambling that involves problem gambling but only during specific periods of time. That is different from a general gambling addiction, which tends to involve excessive gambling behavior regularly and to include persistent thoughts (preoccupation) about gambling even during times when the person is not engaged in gambling.

Causes and risk factors for gambling addiction

Causes and risk factors for gambling addiction
Causes and risk factors for gambling addiction

When thinking why people gamble, it is important to understand that there is usually no one specific reason for pathological gambling. Some potential exceptions include the observation that some individuals who are given medications that treat Parkinson’s disease or restless leg syndrome canrved to develop impulse-control disorders like compulsive gambling, shopping, or compulsive sexual behaviors.

The concept about that connection involves the increased activity of the chemical messenger dopamine in the brain. Dopamine role in gambling withdrawal is important. Another example where compulsive gambling may have a single cause is bipolar disorder as compulsive gambling may be a symptom of the mania that is part of bipolar disorder.

Much more commonly, gambling addiction, like most other emotional conditions, is understood to be the result of a combination of biological vulnerabilities, ways of thinking, and social stressors (biopsychosocial model).

There are, however, components that increase the likelihood that the individual will develop a gambling addiction. Risk factors for displaying pathological gambling include schizophrenia, mood problems, antisocial personality disorder, and alcohol or cocaine addiction. Persons with a low level of serotonin in the brain are also thought to be at higher risk for developing pathological gambling compared to others.

People suffering from compulsive gambling have a tendency to be novelty seekers, feel disconnected (dissociated), relaxed, or aroused while gambling or playing video games. Research also indicates that individuals who have money problems, win a large amount of money early into gambling, suffer a recent loss (like divorce, job loss), or are lonely increases the risk of developing compulsive gambling. Gambling addiction brain damage has also been reported.

The effect of Internet Gambling

The effect of Internet Gambling
The effect of Internet Gambling

The best and easiest way to access gambling in the 21st century is through the internet, both in the home and on mobile devices. The private nature of this kind of gambling can hide the problems from friends and family. 

The availability of internet gambling may attract people who are already problem gamblers and allow them to do more harm in a shorter amount of time using multiple accounts on unregulated sites, according to a 2015 study in the journal Current Addiction Reports.

There is not one a specific kind of person who becomes ensnared by problem internet gambling; demographically, study subjects were all over the map. One thing they had in common – access and familiarity with the internet, which led the researchers to warn of potential problem gambling spikes among young people who are more technologically literate and internet savvy. 

What are the gambling addiction symptoms?

What are the signs of gambling addiction
What are the signs of gambling addiction

It involves persistent and recurring problem gambling that includes several of the following symptoms that are not the result of another mental-health problem, like during a manic episode:

  • A preoccupation with gambling, either by reliving past gambling, planning for future gambling playing, and/or thinking of ways to secure money to finance gambling
  • Needing more and more money for gambling in order to achieve the desired level of gambling enjoyment
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop or cut down betting behaviors
  • Becoming uneasy or easily worried when trying to reduce or stop gambling
  • Gambling for the purpose of escaping problems or to relieve depression or anxiety
  • Returning to gambling after losing money in an effort to recoup losses
  • Lying to family or other loved ones, mental-health professionals, or others in an effort to hide the extent of the gambling behavior
  • Committing crimes for instance stealing, fraud, or forgery, or securing illegal loans to finance gambling
  • Risking important employment, relationships, or other opportunities due to gambling
  • Depending on others for money to resolve dire financial situations that are the result of gambling

Compulsive gambling treatment for gambling addiction in South Africa

Treatment for Gambling Addiction
Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Therapy: This could be behavior therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This therapy helps the person to reduce the craving to gamble by systematically exposing them to the behaviour. CBT helps change the way in which the individual feels and thinks about gambling.

Medications: Mood stabilizers and antidepressants can also help reduce symptoms and illnesses that sometimes appear with gambling addictions. Some antidepressants may reduce the gambling urge, too. Narcotic antagonists — drugs used to treat drug addictions can also help some compulsive gamblers.

Self-help groups: It can also be fruitful to speak with others in a similar situation. This could be the right gambling addiction help.

Gambling addiction hotline in south africa is – 0800 006 008. Or WhatsApp/SMS HELP To 076 675 0710 or email to or call our International Number: +27 21 674 5830.

Some studies have explored that the so-called home remedies can also help treat gambling addiction. Some remedies being explored to address this disorder include glutamate, diet, and aromatherapies.

What is the prognosis for gambling addiction?

What is the prognosis for gambling addiction
What is the prognosis for gambling addiction

With treatment, the prognosis of compulsive gambling can be quite helpful. More than two-thirds of people with this disorder; usually stay away from problem gambling a year after receiving six weeks of treatment. After treatment has ended, less than one-fifth of those who receive follow-up for relapse prevention have the tendency to relapse into gambling addiction behavior after one year compared to half of those who do not receive follow-up.

What are the complications and negative effects of gambling addiction?

What are the complications and negative effects of gambling addiction
What are the complications and negative effects of gambling addiction

Although as many as one-third of individuals; who suffer from pathological gambling; may get rid of this disease without receiving any treatment; the potential devastation that compulsive gambling can impact the life of the suffer and those around him or her clearly indicate that the potential positive aspects outweigh the possible complications that result from an intervention.

Harmful effects that compulsive gambling can have on the individual include monetary problems ranging from high debt, bankruptcy; or poverty, to legal problems resulting from theft to prostitution, to wanting, attempting, or completing suicide.

Many compulsive gambling sufferers experience stress-associated medical problems like insomnia, stomach ulcers, and other gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and muscle aches.

Gambling addiction in South Africa can have many negative effects on the family. Statistics show that families of people with compulsive gambling are more likely to experience domestic violence and child abuse.

Problem gambler children are at significantly higher risk of suffering from depression, behavior problems, and substance abuse. One of the challenges of treatment of such gambling is that as many as two-thirds of people; who start treatment for this disorder discontinue treatment prematurely, whether treatment involves medication, therapy, or both.

Is it possible to prevent gambling addiction?

Is it possible to prevent gambling addiction
Is it possible to prevent gambling addiction

In addition to reducing risk factors for compulsive gambling; educating the people at larger about the warning signs for this disorder are key components to prevention. Some warning signs include often talking about gambling; bragging about gambling wins, poor performance and unexplained absences from work or school, stealing, mood swings, or excessive borrowing.

For those with internet gambling problems; some sort of mobile or desktop access restrictions may be advised, though difficult to achieve.

About the author

Mamta Sharma