Let’s Break The Taboo And Talk About Gambling Problems!

I usually don’t write much about gambling but a friend of mine is spending a year in Kairo volunteering for the organization https://www.egyptgamblingtheraphy.org and talking to him I realize how complex this world is. This and organizations like them, do an amazing job when they try to help and educate people about something that is a growing problem on one hand, and on the other hand, still considered socially and religiously, completely unacceptable.  Here we will talk about gambling problems.  

Gambling for money is an activity loved by many around the western world and during the last ten years, it has also become socially acceptable to gamble online. With the advancements of online casinos and betting sites gambling has not only increased in countries with an existing tradition of gambling but has also become accessible to people in countries where gambling for money has been banned for centuries.  As gamblers stake their money, for the thrills and excitement, there is always the potential risk of gambling addiction and negative social and financial consequences associated with money gambling. Like many other fun activities, gambling too is prone to be addictive. Unfortunately, the advent of the internet has brought about the global availability of gambling activities to online platforms 24/7. Now, gamblers don’t even need to go to a land-based casino floor or other brick and mortar gambling institutions to gamble. Just a few clicks on their desktop or mobile devices now allow them to gamble online from almost any country.

As international gambling sites make themselves available in local language and currency they’ve managed to quickly attract new gamblers around the Middle East with drastically increases in gambling-related problems in several countries. Egypt is one of the countries that according to the online casino and betting industry has the greatest potential to grow, and it is growing. Although the Holy book Qur’an, forbids any act of gambling and gambling games, many Egyptians are fond of the activities. And like the rest of the world, Egypt has its fair share of gamblers addicted to gambling but unlike the western world, gambling is considered illegal activity and a taboo topic to talk about, making it difficult to identify and help people at risk. In recent years local help centers like the Egypt Gambling Therapy, have developed to spread information in Arabic to create awareness of the growing problem and allow concerned family members, friends, and gamblers themselves, to contact them anonymously to get help. According to this organization, no one really knows how many Egyptians have developed a gambling addiction. Due to the taboo, people that develop compulsive gambling behavior in Egypt will most often not seek help for gambling problems and even if they do mention this to their doctor, they will not get diagnosed with the western standardized ICD-10 F63.0 for Pathological Gambling. Instead, alternative diagnoses are used like depression, stress, and so on. This makes it difficult to get a clear picture of what the country is in fact dealing with.  This makes volunteer organizations and supports groups even more important in countries where gambling is quickly increasing but the taboo and legal situation makes it impossible to talk about in the open. 

To fight gambling addiction we must talk about it and remove the social stigma around it and that’s why I’m publishing this article on my blog. Gambling itself is not a disease. Gambling becomes an addiction when a gambler can control the desire to engage in gambling activities and lets it become an obsession. This addiction will result in many problems that will adversely affect the gamblers and their family and friends. It can lead to financial issues, legal problems, poor health, relationship problems, substance use, depression, and many other consequences.

What leads to problem gambling?

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There are different motives for people’s gambling activities. Some do it for fun and enjoyment. However, some see gambling as a means to make money or as an escape from everyday problems.

Gambling is a slippery slope, and if not managed and controlled, it can result in problems. Gambling for fun can still be appropriately managed, but when you gamble to try and escape from your concerns or see gambling as a great way to make a fortune, it becomes easy to get obsessed with the activity.

Compulsive gamblers will keep getting uncontrollable impulses to gamble no matter the effects or toll it has on their life.

Symptoms of problem gambling

  • Finding it difficult to stop and walk away
  • Gambling with money budgeted for bills, savings, or other essential things
  • Attempting to recover gambling losses by gambling more.
  • Gambling without limits
  • Borrowing money to fund gambling habits
  • Lying to family and friends about gambling activities
  • Going to extremes to find money to gamble through theft, forgery, or other criminal activities to fund this habit
  • Making gambling a priority and ignoring other more important things

Treating Gambling Addiction

If you see these gambling signs in your gambling activity or in that of someone close to you, then you should know that such activity is starting to become an addiction. You need to get help for it not to become even more problematic.

Recognizing and understanding your Gambling Problem

Admitting that you have a problem with gambling is naturally the first step in dealing with it. Recognizing the signs of your addiction can help modify your gambling behavior. Admitting your problem will also help you accept the consequences that your gambling activities have incurred on you and understand the risks further gambling entails.

Manage Triggers to Gambling

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Trying to stop gambling by controlling gambling impulses can be very difficult. This is because many things can trigger the urge in different individuals. For some, boredom or negative emotions such as depression or stress can lead to gambling. Identifying your triggers will help you to cope with your impulses. To manage your triggers, you should learn to

  • Avoid any situation that will put you in a position to gamble.
  • Substance use can trigger the impulse to gamble. So, limit substance use.
  • Increase your impulse control.
  • Manage your emotions.
  • Avoid anything that will tempt you to gamble

Replacing Gambling with Alternatives

Avoiding triggers is a great way to deal with gambling addiction, but to control the urges, you will need to replace gambling with healthy alternatives. Replacing gambling activities with positive alternatives will take your focus away from gambling. Some healthy alternatives to gambling include physical activities (like going for walks, yoga, weightlifting), meditation, spending time with non-gambling friends, traveling, exploring new hobbies, etc.

Get Help through Support Groups

In the bid of getting help, you can join a support group. Support groups are run and filled with people with similar pasts and experiences. Individuals will share their experiences with the problem and the steps they have taken to cope with it. Although they lack professional interventions, support groups are free for gamblers to use in-person or online chat rooms. One such group created around the needs of problem gamblers is Anonymous Gambling Groups. Many gambling addiction therapy sites dedicated to helping Egyptians that are addicted to gambling to treat gambling addictions are available online.

Seek Professional Help

Professional help will employ a more direct approach towards treating your gambling addiction. Talking to experienced counselors and addiction therapists can go a long way in helping you with your gambling addiction. If you are still finding it difficult to resist your urges, you can explore different treatment types. Behavior therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are standard forms of treatment for gambling issues. Treatment of underlying issues that might trigger compulsive gambling is another treatment option. Gambling triggers like substance abuse and mental health issues like anxiety or depression can be treated to reduce gambling impulses.

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