How Hypnotherapy can break gambling addiction
Gambling addiction is a serious problem for many of my clients, and a growing issue in the UK.
It has the worst survival rate of any addiction and the American Office for Statistics tell us that one in 10 gamblers will take their own life. Normal functioning - regular meals, sleep, relationships, self-respect and good health disappear when the addiction takes over. Despair, ruin and tragedy is an addict's life.
Why are some of us vulnerable to being hooked, while others have no interest in betting? There is no definitive answer. Some people have had abusive childhoods, while others have had normal, loving homes but they share the same catastrophic destiny - they can't stop gambling. The gambling industry is lucrative and highly calculated. Neuroscientists say that the gambling machines and websites are designed by psychologists in collaboration with other experts to light up the pleasure centres in the brain. Some individuals are acutely sensitive to this chemical arousal and the subsequent rush of adrenaline which gets them hooked quickly.
The special construction of the gambling sites makes it difficult to disengage, even when you want to. One client told me that even though he was being urged by his friend to transfer winnings to his bank account (he had won £800 during a work lunch hour), putting the gains into his bank account would involve going through several circuitous loops.
The roller coaster of gambling highs and lows is disastrous for the parasympathetic nervous system and many gamblers I see are utterly emotionally exhausted. I also see far more men than women, again this is unexplained, but may reflect pressure on men to be rich and successful.
Why do people begin to gamble? One pleasant young male client, James, told me he felt like 'Billy no-mates'. He had recently moved into a flat in London and found himself home alone with a laptop while his friends were all out having a 'great time.' The skill and glamour of gambling lured him into the sites. He liked the idea of himself as a proficient gambler, making himself powerful and desirable to others. Soon he was making large sums of money but losing bigger sums. Desperation set in as he tried to recover losses. He was afraid to answer his mobile at work in case someone was chasing a debt, even though he was expected to check it regularly. Gambling was a guilty secret: his family had no idea he was doing it until he had to ask them to pay off a gambling loan of several thousand pounds.
Another client, Fergus, a talented stockbroker was introduced to gambling as a child through his grandfather. His massive successes on the stock exchange fed his gambling addiction at the casino after work hours. He ended up bankrupt, having lost millions. The worst part was having to tell his wife, who had no idea that he gambled, that he had lost their family home.
Using the resources of the unconscious mind, gamblers become ex-gamblers through learning that they are not powerless over gambling. They get power back over themselves. They can say 'No' and walk away for good.
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