Krzysztof is a former gambling addict who hopes to give advice to those who may be suffering from gambling addiction and other disorders.
Characteristics of Gambling Addicts
A gambling addict is someone who has a gambling disorder or is in the beginning stages of it. The disorder grows stronger, and eventually, the victim succumbs to their addictive behaviors.
The real question people want to know is what the typical gambler looks like. Are they male or female, are they young or old, and what is their race/culture/ethnicity?
How well do the gambling stereotypes hold up?
Who Are the Gamblers?
Gambling spans a broad range of demographics because anyone can get involved. The most common group would have to be adolescents and African American and Hispanic groups because of a combination of socioeconomic factors.
Among genders, males are more likely than females to become addicts, and that spans various types of addictions, including drugs and alcohol. Like other addictions, they can begin at an early age and grow over time.
This means that youngsters who obsessively play a lot of dice games and bet among friends will eventually grow into adults who do the same at a much more dangerous level.
This level commonly includes casino games and high-stakes betting at things like a race track or other sporting events.
The ethnicity/race arguments presented for those gamblers have to do with location (urban vs. rural setting) and economic problems. There are more opportunities to gamble in an urban location, and the risks are worth taking.
Why is it okay to take chances?
It's okay because a lot of those people born into poor surroundings feel that they have nothing to lose thus, gambling is seen as more promising than destructive.
Worst Gambling Stereotypes
People who have been defined as gambling addicts have several social stigmas attached to them, and these include:
- Out of control
- Waste on society
There are many more, but you can get the gist of how other people view gamblers. The average casino gambler looks like an adult, male zombie who keeps pressing his luck to no avail.
They are viewed with disgust but are also pitied by many. It is sad watching someone throw everything away without regard for other people's feelings. Initially, they may be seen as selfish and plain stupid, but over time it becomes more and more pathetic to watch them.
As with other addicts, you feel for these people while also loathing them at the same time. You wish you could help them, but you don't want to go near them. They tear at your heartstrings while also making you want to throw up when next to them.
Male vs. Female Addiction
Males are more likely to fall victim to gambling disorders, but they are treated more like perpetrators than victims in the court of public opinion.
So why is that, and why aren't women viewed in the same light?
There are a lot of women who struggle with this addiction, but others don't judge them quite as harshly as they do men.
Those notions represent several of those dreaded sex stereotypes that I hate. When it comes to women who struggle with addiction, they are seen as poor, innocent victims of an uncontrollable force. When it comes to men, they are seen as immature children that have zero willpower.
Male addicts are not viewed with the same hospitality as female addicts are, and it is really a shame because both suffer from psychological disturbances that affect them on an equal level.
The genders should either be viewed with similar disdain, or they should be allowed to be portrayed as victims of a brutal mental illness. I favor the latter because the problem is far deeper than a loss of willpower. In fact, it is closely related to another serious mental illness—depression.
Does Gambling Cause Depression?
What came first, the depression or the gambling addiction?
The answer could be neither because one doesn't have to cause the other, but it's more common to see them grouped together than not.
If we take a look at the first argument:
- Depression causes addiction
Then we must find out why that is so. Depression itself is responsible for a lot of reckless actions and some are very risky. When you're depressed, you don't care about life and are more likely to participate in activities that you once viewed as terrifying.
Since it can lead to a drug or alcohol problem, then it can definitely lead to a gambling problem. (Never gamble sad or angry) When everything you once cared about goes out the window, then all your views and beliefs fall by the wayside as well.
As for the second argument:
- Addiction leads to depression
We take a look at how that's even possible. Well, how do you think someone feels when they lose everything in a couple of hours or less? I'm guessing they'll be feeling fairly depressed.
At first, it'll come in like a jolt after the denial phase, and finally, it'll all come crashing down when reality hits. Besides your psyche becoming unstable, it could also trigger depressive symptoms and eventually the disease itself.
It's a horrible gamble, but someone will fall victim to it.
How to Fight Negative Stereotypes
So you're an adult with a gambling disorder and everyone is looking down on you.
What do you do now?
To erase those thoughts, the best way would be to enter a recovery program for the situation. For whatever reason, when people hear that you've checked into a rehab facility, they'll give you praise and allow you to be the victim (you'll never get that before you seek treatment).
It's only after recovery that you'll be called brave and a fighter for battling through your issues and getting back on your feet. But it's never that easy, and multiple visits, including recurring visitations, are likely to prevent relapses.
And once you relapse, you'll yet again be stereotyped as a failing addict in a very judgmental fashion. People fail to understand how difficult it is to regain control, and all they can throw out is more snide remarks about your problem.
You can't fall victim to these stereotypes because you're not part of a generality; you're an individual.
Advice for Addicts
There will always be an uphill battle when you're a recovering addict, and that's just from the disorder. I would argue the biggest battle will be against what society thinks of you as a survivor.
- Don't let others criticize you and put you into their set characteristics. Don't let stereotypes place you into a small, rusty locker. Don't let who you are fade because you have a problem.
- Forget the statistics and worry about yourself. Just because family members and your culture had struggles with addiction doesn't mean you have to suffer the same fate. You don't have to be a statistic and follow the formula.
- Finally, even though you may be a struggling addict, you shouldn't have to be viewed as a pathetic, uncontrollable loser.
Many victims are just as intelligent, prosperous, and hard-working as everyone else. They are individuals with their own physical and psychological makeup and not clones of societal notions. Despite their difficulties and struggles with this psychological problem, they need to reclaim their individuality and not be a blank caricature of others' perceptions.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.