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Old 01-23-12, 10:46 PM
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Gambling addiction

Ever since I turned 16 (i'm 21 now) i've had this huge hook on fruit machines. I've probably squandered thousands in them over the last 5 years. The funny thing is though, I don't play them to "win" or "gain", because whenever I do have that odd peice of luck, I just stick the money back in again, even although I know i'm not going to win again.

So I often find myself asking myself "Why?.. Why do I play these awful things?".

It's taken me all this time to finally figure out why I think I play them. I think it comes down to social anxiety and when i'm out and surrounded by other people, playing a fruit machine allows me to avoid interacting with anybody else around me. I can just kind of "switch off" and nobody will notice me in the pub or the club etc....

Has anybody else here had experiences with gambling addictions? What kind of steps did you take in order to over come this addiction? Or are you still suffering from heavy addiction?

Fraz
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Old 01-28-12, 05:20 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

Tons of ADDers are gambling addicts. Stimulus + excitement + risk +flashing lights + rewards? Sign me up. If your gambling problem predated medication, stimulants can feed it as well. I wouldn't recommend taking your meds when you go if you've noticed you bet more or play longer on them.

I worked in Surveillance for the casino industry for three years and counted cards professionally for about a year after that. Had I not seen the odds, seen the life-to-date numbers of everyone in the building via their Player's Cards and witnessed how brutal gambling addictions can be, I would have been hooked at one point or another myself. Here's what I tell everybody who asks me about gambling or is obviously in deep and looking for help:

1.) Every game in every casino displays a house advantage. Slots are anywhere from 20-50% and are the worst bet there is. Fruit machines are actually a slightly better bet than most machines but you're still looking at a a pretty big gap. Progressive machines are the literal equivalent of taking a roll of money and lighting it on fire. Video poker is the best slot bet but it's still not great. The average habitual gambler, who uses money management, plays decent games and knows what they're doing is down roughly 60% or more on what they've invested in their trips life-to-date. Blackjack is the best game in terms of odds at a 5-10% player disadvantage and if you learn how to count cards (Good luck with this if you have ADD, it took me over a year) you might flip that to a 5-10% advantage over the house, tops. Craps and Pai Gow both offer a fairly even game but they get you with the sidebets, bonus bets and ins.

2.) There is no timing, no tricks, no magical series of actions or rhyme / reason to any of the games. It's all randomized. Hitting the button does the same thing as pulling the handle. Coin and ticket are exactly the same for odds. Having a card in or not having a card in doesn't impact anything, there is no such thing as a "hot" machine and literally nobody who hasn't hit a major jackpot is up on the casino in slots no matter what they say.

3.) Casinos offer a program called 'Voluntary Exclusion'. You can go to Security and request this. In most properties, this basically bans you from the casino. They have Surveillance use a camera to take your photo, take down your info and put a note in your club account. If you return to the casino after you Voluntarily Exclude yourself, you will be approached by Security and escorted out. Of course, you have the option to rescind this at any time and come back, but it obviously isn't a good idea. It's not a big deal, tons of people do it (professional athletes do all the time) and they handle it with customer service and discretion in mind. This is a good way to keep yourself out if you can't do it yourself.

4.) Gambling Addiction Hotlines are abundant, Google one and give them a call. They are subsidized by the gaming industry as a favor to the IRS, basically, and they can offer support in beating a gambling problem. There are many therapists who specialize in gambling addiction as well.

5.) Medication will not help a gambling addiction in most cases. Therapy and impulse control exercises are pretty much the only way you're going to beat it. The problem is, when people manage to stay out of the casino for a while, they see their bank account recover and they suddenly have extra money again. They allow themselves one trip back, that trip becomes a weekend, that weekend becomes every weekend, etc.

6.) Find other less financially damaging ways to satisfy your urge to play. There are a fair amount of online casinos that don't play for real money or play for miniscule amounts, handheld slot machine simulators, all sorts of stuff - That might not be a bad idea in the short-term. Video games are a much cheaper investment than slots and offer a similar experience - In terms of cost for hours of entertainment, it's a solid investment.

7.) If you do feel that you can gamble responsibly and insist on still going, bring a certain amount of money with you and leave your credit cards and check book at home. Bring just your ID and your cash. This forces you to stick to what you set aside and when it's gone, you go home. It helps teach moderation when gaming because you usually don't want to shoot your bank in the first ten minutes of being there. Never, ever, ever use the casino's check cashing system, cash advances, markers, loans etc. The interest on all of these is absurd and no, you never win the money back.

8.) Don't. Chase. Losses. Chasing losses leads to more losses 100% of the time. Your brain naturally prioritizes your memory to highlight the good trips and minimize the bad ones, and the addiction offers a rationalization process to go along with it - Not good. Be okay with the money you've lost and move on. Remember: You are supposed to lose. The odds are against you. Losing your @$$ is the most probable outcome on every trip.
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Old 01-28-12, 06:33 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

Yes, huge problem for me. I gamble in the stock index options market. But the same addiction. I have lost 7 figures in 30 years. Pretty much destroyed any chance at a good life to date. It is a way for me to escape my reality as well. And it is much worse when I am on stimulants because I feel very grandiose, almost invincible. It is very frustrating and an exercise in futility. Insanity!!!
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Old 01-28-12, 06:39 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

Interesting comments about the stimulants making gambling habits worse, when it generally helps with other addictions such as alcohol and smoking.

Thanks for the comments, very informative.
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Old 01-28-12, 06:54 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

Well, a casino is an enviroment overloaded with stimulus. ADHD medications enhance normal stimulus so we can pay attention to them and enjoy them. Apply that to an overstimulating experience where there's alcohol and you might end up wearing your tie around your head like a bandana, being drunk as you've ever been and throwing your life saving's onto a Craps table.

And yeah, stocks aren't great either. At least you had the seven figures to lose, right? Have someone else manage your portfolio, maybe.
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Old 02-10-12, 05:41 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

Also on this - I read an article a while ago about a man with Parkinson's who gambled away his life's savings after being put on medications for it. ADHD meds and Parkinsons meds aren't all that different in terms of how they effect your thought process and the "reward" function - You might be making a gambling problem much worse with medication. I'd make sure that you resolve the gambling impulse and worry about the ADHD afterwards, because someone with ADHD doesn't really need any additional motivation to do risky, impulsive, self-destructive things.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:01 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

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Originally Posted by siglerja View Post
Also on this - I read an article a while ago about a man with Parkinson's who gambled away his life's savings after being put on medications for it. ADHD meds and Parkinsons meds aren't all that different in terms of how they effect your thought process and the "reward" function - You might be making a gambling problem much worse with medication. I'd make sure that you resolve the gambling impulse and worry about the ADHD afterwards, because someone with ADHD doesn't really need any additional motivation to do risky, impulsive, self-destructive things.
Well I don't take any medication yet. But the reason I find myself gambling is mainly out of boredom.

I was thinking that medication might help by getting me motivated to do other things, thus making me less bored, thus turning my attention away from fruit machines?
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Old 07-17-12, 04:55 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

9) If you cannot help gambling, poker is the least evil game in a casino. Instead of playing against the casino who will never lose in the long run, players compete against each other and the casino doesn't care who wins.
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7.) If you do feel that you can gamble responsibly and insist on still going, bring a certain amount of money with you and leave your credit cards and check book at home....
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Old 07-18-12, 11:46 AM
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Re: Gambling addiction

Gambling machines and casino environments are designed SPECIFICALLY to hook susceptible people. Lots and lots of money is spent to ensure the experience is tuned to the nth degree to make it addictive.

The OP has the self awareness to know he is exhibiting addictive behaviour, and has an inkling of why this might be happening.

I'd have a couple of comments
1) Fruit machines usually exist in only a couple of environments... in Scotland mainly pubs.
2) Scottish male culture means the pub is the main place blokes go to socialise when they want to meet outside the home.

Unfortunately the warping of Scottish male culture means breaking an addiction to either alcohol or fruit machines is hard as it often means losing what little social contact the man has.

Thus the heart of the problem is not actually the gambling or drinking but the man's sense of isolation when he thinks about trying to quit the addiction.

Being able to stand alone and not "need" the company of others is often the most important step in the recovery process. Once that step is taken other, less toxic, social circles can be entered.

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Old 07-19-12, 01:42 AM
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Re: Gambling addiction

I can't really chime in on the gambling. I've never really gambled. Seeing the comments in this thread make me happy I already had a "plan" in case I did. Namely the "designate X amount to lose to the casino" plan.

What I do know is video games. Beware of freemium apps especially for the phone. There's a number designed to take advantage of the same gambling instincts to weed more money out of you via micro transactions. It'll add up.

Steam is presently having it's summer sale. Be wary of that too. Good deals and you'll feel happy about your purchases...until you realize you spent more money then you meant to because you got all this stuff you where only kind of interested in.

I can't really think of how to make a Scottish pub atmosphere a positive one. I've never been to one and I'm trying to imagine it. I doubt there's enough lighting to read by. I bet using a phone would be rude. I gotta say. Sounds like something best avoided outside of going with a group of friends (people you can chat with) or to get a drink. (at which point consuming the beverage and being on your way is a solid plan)

It might be a tough call to make but ask yourself if it's the right one for you.
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Old 07-20-12, 09:22 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

I actually found my addictive tendencies diminished a lot once I got on meds. However, if your dose is too high, it seems like it can push you past the functional level and right on into over-stimulation. At that point you might as well be a normal person tweaking on meth.
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Old 02-09-17, 12:08 AM
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Re: Gambling addiction

Well over 4 years on and i'm still at it.... when will I ever learn!
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Old 02-09-17, 10:06 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

You've already learned. It's the part that comes after learning that's the interesting one.
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Old 02-10-17, 08:22 AM
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Re: Gambling addiction

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You've already learned. It's the part that comes after learning that's the interesting one.
It's trying to apply what I already know.
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Old 02-10-17, 01:25 PM
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Re: Gambling addiction

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It's trying to apply what I already know.
... And allowing your persistent wrong thoughts and wrong feelings to be discredited and overruled. That's not easy, because you've learned to oppose what isn't right for you. Now you need different information that IS right for you, and you're opposing it too.
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