Problem gambling is an urge to gamble despite the many negative consequences. The addiction usually occurs in three phases. In the first phase, the user begins gambling with small quantities, followed by small wins. The user then starts creating the illusion that he can win larger quantities and thus continues playing. Then, in the second phase, the user begins to lose money and conceal his losses. The user begins withdrawing from his family and daily life and does not want to come to terms with the addiction problem. The losses continue to grow and the user tries to cover his debts through loans, but continues to feel that the profits outweigh the losses and that with more gambling, the debts will eventually be paid off. In the last phase, however, utter despair sets in. In this last phase, the user may employ illegal tactics in order to continue playing. However, soon a sense of hopelessness kicks in and the user slowly realizes that the debts are extreme and cannot be paid off. In this phase, strong feelings of guilt, maybe even thoughts of suicide, may surface.
An addiction to computer games is another form of a gambling addiction. Here, the users become addicted to the imaginary success gained in an online game. Scientists at Stanford University’s School of Medicine discovered that addiction to online gaming occurs when the reward center of the brain is frequently activated. This is also much stronger in men than it is in women. This also explains why statistically speaking there are more male gamers than females. Generally, the addiction is dependent on the user’s success in the game. To combat this problem, the Chinese government created a special program for gamers under 18. When these users play uninterrupted for more than 3 hours, they are prompted to end the game and go out and exercise. If they ignore this warning, their accumulated points will steadily decrease. This is one of many ways in which such problems can be combatted.
For both addictions, there is no universal treatment. In some cases, medication can be used while in other cases, other forms of therapy are best.