What do insurance fraud, meditation and a tendency to show off have in common? The answer is they all form part of the messy web that is gambling addiction. To get the full story on what real-life gambling problems can actually do to a person’s life, we spoke with Dr. Steven Rosenberg.
Dr. Rosenberg is a psychotherapist and behavioral specialist working in Philadelphia. He’s helped tens of thousands of clients to manage issues that are having a negative impact on their lives, like drug and gambling addiction.
We started off by asking Dr. Rosenberg what leads to someone developing a gambling problem. His answer was simple:
“Gambling addiction starts with the need to feel better about oneself. Then, the person will start slowly with a friendly wager. This will grow into finding a lottery to play, then a football pool, then an organized crime pool.
People become addicted to gambling because they have a multitude of problems. The first is low self-esteem. To feel better, they pick up on gambling.
Peer pressure and group dynamics also come into the mix. They see other people ‘win’ money and think that somebody has to win. ”
What about personality? Does your natural disposition mean you’re more at risk from becoming a gambling addict? Dr. Rosenberg says, yes:
‘The personality of a gambler is someone who wants to show off after a win. The person has a tendency to be more extroverted. Even if the gambler is somewhat introverted, the extrovert inside will come out.
For example, the celebrity who likes to be “out there” is a prime candidate to gamble. It would not be surprising if the whole Kardashian clan would gamble. This goes with all of those on reality TV programs. They like being in trouble. Most gamblers end up being in trouble!”
Dr. Rosenberg also says that the culture you’re from can affect your chances of becoming a gambling addict too:
“Gambling is more accepted in some cultures. The Asian population is more accepting of gambling. The same with those of Eastern European heritage. The reason is that their ancestors were into gambling. It became a part of their culture. It all started with games that were played in those cultures, then betting became a part of the games.”
When we asked Dr. Rosenberg what the worst gambling story he’d ever heard was, He took a long deep breath and shared this:
So when does something go from being a fun thing you love to do, to an addiction?
‘The drive to win more money fuels the addiction. The person may win enough jackpots to keep this drive going. Next comes stealing and hocking jewelry to finance this ‘need’ to hit that big jackpot.
This is the addiction cycle. The addict uses gambling to feel better. This is self-medicating. That’s the definition of an addict. To self-medicate.”
Once you’re addicted to gambling, Dr. Rosenberg says your need to gamble could lead you down a dangerous path:
“Being addicted to anything opens you up to doing risky things. The addict can commit forgery, armed robbery or prostitution to help finance the addiction.
There is a great deal of insurance fraud with the gambling addiction. It’s easy and they think they can get away with it because they feel that they paid premiums to be able to collect.”
When it comes to curing gambling addiction, Dr. Rosenberg has some advice that many other doctors don’t even consider:
‘The best way to treat gambling addiction is to have the person in talk therapy as well as a twelve-step program. The gambler must learn to improve self-esteem and self-confidence. Meditation is a great tool to help with the neediness of the gambler.”
Dr. Rosenberg also says that if meditation isn’t effective, good old medication might be:
Many people who are addicted to gambling are depressed and have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies.
There are medications that a person can take for this disorder. The problem with medication is trial and error. What can work with one person may not work with another.
Talking therapy is more effective than going the medication route, unless there is severe depression or bi-polarism.
Dr. Steven Rosenberg is a psychotherapist and behavioral specialist practicing in Elkins Park, Pa (suburban Philadelphia). He has worked with tens of thousands of clients over the past 30 years to help them manage/conquer a wide range of emotional and mental health issues as well as smoking cessation, weight loss, sports performance, stress reduction, work/life balance and more. To learn more about him, visit his website at http://quititnow.com.
Need Help Now?
If you think you or someone you know has a gambling problem, here are some useful resources:
Our Gambling Addiction page https://www.casino.org/gambling-addiction/
National Council On Problem Gambling http://www.ncpgambling.org/
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders definition of gambling addiction http://www.ncpgambling.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/DSM-5-Diagnostic-Criteria-Gambling-Disorder.pdf
Gamblers Anonymous http://www.gamblersanonymous.org