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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flirting with Fate

Most gamblers lose. So why do people bet their hard-earned money?  One of the reasons for gambling is that it’s human nature to feel excited when taking risks and the positive feeling gained from gambling is no different. “Will my numbers come up?” “Will my team win?”
The sense of anticipation creates a natural high, an adrenalin rush, a feeling that many of us seek when looking for fun and entertainment. A feeling that some people believe they cannot live without.
Excitement may underlie the disorder to gamble, with winning representing a fantastic triumph. A desire for success may be driven by a strong need to impress others. Another similar possible reason for gambling is related to control; the concept of omnipotent provocation, or flirting with fate. This behavior may involve engaging in high-risk activities and placing extraordinary high wagers. Strong sensations may be desired that compensate for feelings of emptiness and depression.


Growing up feeling unappreciated or neglected may prompt a need to excel, with gambling being the one activity a person beleives they are good at.


 Some individuals gamble to break conventional norms, and an aggressive tendency may underlie this type of gambling. Winning may be associated with fantasies of getting back at others; by purchasing expensive cars or clothes and flaunting them. Some individuals have a strong desire to win independence; they believe a big win will allow them to quit working, get a divorce, or gain independence.

Social acceptance 

It can be easy to be impressed by the perks in tangible (free hotel rooms or meals) or intangible forms (staff remembering their names, or sitting next to a famous person at a blackjack table). The self-medication hypothesis is another potential reason: For individuals who are lonely and depressed, gambling may relieve isolation and depression.
According to psychoanalytic theory, once a person better understands the reasons for gambling, defenses can be confronted.


 Denial has been described as a disavowal of external reality, that selected perceptions are rejected to avoid the pain associated with them. It is a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality
Inherent in denial may be the use of fantasy. While gambling, some people’s fantasies may relate to a sense of vulnerability or specialness. In regard to addictions, denial can be extended to mean the common failure to admit a problem with a behavior. Because denial can be considered a defense against pain, psychodynamic therapy may focus on teaching the patient to accept feelings of guilt, shame, and ambivalence about gambling within the context of therapy.


The act of continued betting in hopes of winning lost money is considered a crucial aspect of pathological gambling. It has been suggested that chasing is related to narcissistic entitlement rather than the financial reasons many gamblers verbalize. Some believe winning is owed to them. Competitive gamblers in particular may feel winning may make up for the early deprivation and unfairness they have experienced in life. Others, however, may keep chasing because of feelings of guilt and shame. These types of gamblers may be trying desperately to hide their gambling, the extent of financial losses, and embarrassment associated with their gambling problem. They may gamble to conceal what they consider to be their own intolerable weaknesses. If family members of these gamblers do find out about the gambling and are supportive of treatment, they can experience relief.
Making an active change in one’s lifestyle can be one step toward overcoming gambling problems. Often however, gamblers insist they can stop on their own and do not need the advice of others, including GA members, their family, or a therapist. For example, some gamblers may feel that they can continue watching sports on television, buying gas at the station where they have purchased lottery tickets, or maintaining control over their finances. Therapy suggests that exploring gambler reactions to and rejections of various ideas, including the underlying resistance to options, may help the gambler in treatment.
If gambling has become a problem, it’s essential that you or your loved one receive professional addiction treatment, but self-exclusion is another major step to recovery. Most casinos offer self-exclusion lists to patrons who have lost control over gambling and can simply tell the casino you would like to be banned from the facility, and the facility records names to follow suit. Banned gamblers are sometimes able to sneak back in, of course, but they won’t be paid if they hit a large jackpot — large payouts require paperwork that reveals these patrons shouldn’t be there. And without the possibility of a big score, many compulsive gamblers find it easier to stay away from the casino.