Each of us tends to feel free, independent, and autonomous, but sometimes it happens that we find ourselves limited by some addictions that prevent us from achieving our goals. Anyway, humans are humans, and if you consider this question from the philosophical point of view, we are dependent of many things: air, water, food, society, etc. However this list primarily includes dependences that are required for maintenance of vital functions. They are inherent since birth. So, they are not considered to be addictions. But there are other kinds of dependences, namely harmful addictions that do not help us to live and realize our potential. We all know these addictions: drinking, smoking, drug addiction, and problem gambling.
This article deals with the physiological features of ludomania development. Awareness of these things will allow you to start controlling them better: forewarned is forearmed! Let’s analyze the basic proven principles for getting rid of gambling addiction.
First of all, we want to familiarize our readers with one very important experiment.
The Canadian researchers James Olds and Peter Milner carried out an extremely interesting experiment in 1954. They implanted electrodes into the brain of rats and performed electrical stimulation of different fragments in the brain. They noticed once that the rats seemed to enjoy this. It was a surprise to the researchers. So, they decided to continue this experiment. They allowed rats to press the lever, which gave an electric current, themselves. Rats ceaselessly pressed the lever a few hundred times per hour!
Researchers made the task more complicated: there were two levers, which had to be pressed by the rats one by one. The rats quickly handled this task. An electric wire was stretched between the levels. It carried an electric current. The rats ran from one lever to the other until their paws became coaled and they fell down exhausted.
Later a similar experiment was carried out with the participation of humans. Electrodes were implanted into the brain of volunteers. They had the opportunity to freely press the button. It is interesting to note that these people, like rats, could not stop pressing the button. They constantly pressed it and did not want to stop doing this. When they were asked why they were doing this, they answered that they were feeling happy. However they did not become happier while pressing it. This only strengthened the desire to press it again and again.
The stimulation of the brain induced dopamine release. This hormone affected the human brain and created a desire to press the button again and again, as if this would make them happy. That is why dopamine is referred to as a hormone of happiness.
How Does the Gambling Addiction Manifest?
This usually happens very quickly and imperceptibly to gamblers. Like in case of alcoholics and drug addicts, none of addicted gamblers can confess that he or she is addicted to gambling. Until recently, it has been supposed that his or her attitude towards gambling is not such a big problem. However dopamine, which is released after victories, causes euphoria and happiness. This effect decreases and then, when a person has not been playing for a long time, he or she starts feeling bad, memories begin to torment him or her, the brain actively synthesizes dopamine to remind you how happy you were while gambling and promises this happiness again. People start gambling again in order to get another dose of happiness and become slaves of gambling games.
A similar situation can be described for other types of additions: alcohol, drugs, and smoking. All of them share the same feature: one believes that the next dose will make him or her happy. Thus, dopamine plays with us, making us dependent on one or the other thing.
Symptoms of problem gambling are similar to drug addiction and alcohol abuse: firstly, a gambler does not bring home his salary, and then begins to sell domestic things, starts borrowing money from friends and acquaintances or taking out loans. Then he is surprised to find a lot of debts and sees that the relatives and friends have already abandoned him. The world is limited to gambling. Hobbies in real life disappear. Combinations, strategies, and bets are always on his mind. The desire to play disappears after neither victories nor losses. When the disease is triggered, there is a feeling of hopelessness and meaninglessness. There are frequent cases of suicide among gamblers.
Why this Happens?
Our brain always tends to save energy. It can be noticed when you need to do something that you actually do not have to do. The brain begins to create hundreds of excuses to avoid doing this and spending energy on this.
It often happens that gambling brings more emotions than the real life, and the brain starts perceiving gambling as a way to obtain these emotions. And if it is easier to get emotions from gambling, there is no need to try to do something in real life. So, the brain logic is obvious: the minimum efforts bring the maximum results.
Gambling games allow getting adrenaline and required emotions. The emotions form the basis of this addiction. However their absence can be caused by a number of other factors, such as lack of communication, adventures in life, sense of struggle in life, as well as lack of recreation and emotional impressions. Therefore, in order to get rid of the addiction, you need to understand the reason that makes you enjoy gambling more than your real life.
How to Turn an Enemy into a Friend?
Dopamine can be either our enemy or our ally. This depends on you. When I decided to get rid of my addiction and give up smoking, an image of my ideal life without cigarettes was a great motivation for me. I’m talking about the life that allows communicating with friends, going out with a girlfriend, doing something interesting and exciting, and realizing my potential. And I began to enjoy while making steps to quit smoking. You will not believe this, but the pleasure from useful deeds can be more intense than the pleasure from harmful deeds!
Another important factor that helps gamblers to overcome addiction is to find their mission in life. Why are you here? What did you bring to this planet? What will be left after you? What will be said about you at your funeral? Think about this, and when you clearly realize your position, act. In this case, you will have something more valuable than your dependence. And this will help you to win dopamine over to your side and successfully overcome your addiction.
How to Increase your Motivation?
You should prepare a reward for yourself. It should really motivate you and prevent you from your previous actions. For example, if you have not been gambling for a week, visit a restaurant with your girlfriend and celebrate this. Each time make the task more complicated and make the reward more valuable. But do this gradually, step by step.
Thus, you will fix new necessary features. You may even be able to get rid of your gambling addiction. Dopamine will work for you. Imagine that your addiction is another person who constantly hurts you. Face your problem and say: "Now I am the master here!" And start waging a war for your independence. Challenge yourself and consider all of your temptations as a fight with your opponent. Keep in mind that you can win any match!
How to Get Rid of Ludomania?
Having determined the root of the problem and made a confession that you are addicted, you can understand how it is possible to overcome your addiction. The next step is to provide yourself with what you lack in real life. You should enjoy this more in real life than while gambling. It will change the direction of the pathological process. Actually the range of emotions that can be obtained in real life is significantly wider and broader. However this requires some efforts. If you get what you want in real life after making efforts, it brings much more pleasure.
Our brain is indifferent to the way we obtain the pleasure. It has one important function. It ensures the survival here and now. The brain does not know how to predict future. Its decisions are not based on long-term goals that will make you happier. This must be done with the help of your own efforts, will power, and discipline.
Having abandoned gambling, fill your life with what you have missed. The difficulties that will be waiting for you ahead should be thought out in advance and you should be prepared for them. First of all, you need to elaborate a strong motivation. To do this, every day it is necessary to visualize your ideal "Ego" and enjoy it. During the visualization you need to fully feel the emotions that you have missed. Initially, it will not be easy, but practice helps you. This will help you to develop a good motivation and make the necessary decision to change your life. You require self-discipline to avoid giving up halfway, so develop it.
Gambling Addiction is a negative habit. Unfortunately, when it has been already developed, it is very difficult to get rid of it. It is much easier to replace it by the other positive habit. Replace it by the habit of spending time on an interesting hobby that may eventually turn into your favorite business and will help you to earn a living and make you really happy.
When you struggle with the addiction, organize your time to prevent the appearance of gaps between different activities. Boredom and idleness are your biggest enemies. You should constantly be busy! This does not mean that you should not relax. However your free time should be full of events, informative, and not boring, since boredom is the first thing that makes you return to old habits.
To sum up, I want to tell an interesting American Indian legend. Once upon a time an old American Indian was teaching his grandson about life:
- We have two wolves inside us. The white one symbolizes wisdom, courage, valor, discipline, strength, and other positive characteristics, and the black wolf is filled with laziness, jealousy, greed, anger, and other negative features. These wolves fight constantly to own you.
- And which wolf wins? – asked the young American Indian.
- The one that you feed...
So, feed your white wolf. Feed it with self-discipline, endurance, strength, good deeds, prayers, realization of your goals and success! And nothing will be impossible for you!