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Can Gamblers Ever Win

For a compulsive gambler, thinking he’s a winner is like an alcoholic thinking he can control his drinking. It is unrealistic thinking.

One win is never enough for a gambler — just as one drink, one hit or one joint is never enough for substance abusers.

Organised gambling is a clever system whereby hope is exchanged for money.  

While hope springs eternal money does not. A luxurious casino where the welcome is effusive, and the meals are free, is an enticing sight. It creates an illusion of control in the gambler (or “punter”).

The gambling industry is a huge and sophisticated operation that has one objective: to make money for its owners.  

That money comes from the punters who must be repeatedly led back to the slaughter by the infusion of hope. Just as a barman will give a free drink to an alcoholic from time to time so a slot machine will allow a gambler to win occasionally.

Most problem gamblers will tell you that winning doesn’t really matter. Keeping that “high” going is much more important — the high that comes from the act of betting and the escape from reality that they can achieve. This comes by focusing totally on the addictive behaviour – working a slot machine for example.

Gamblers sometimes think that they are winners, that they are somehow beating the system. But this is likely to be denial and unrealistic thinking: remembering wins, forgetting losses and ignoring the vast amount of time spent in activities like playing online poker.

To overcome a gambling addiction, it is vitally important that the addict faces reality as fully and as thoroughly as possible.

Denial is fatal for a compulsive gambler — they are eternal optimists who will grab at any suggestion that might minimise their behaviour. The world is full of temptations for them – buying a simple lottery ticket can start the whole cycle over again.

At Castle Craig Hospital, compulsive gamblers are asked to focus on reality by doing a really thorough “Step one” (from the 12 Steps), and only when they have done this in a satisfactory manner will they move on. There are no winners except those who abstain completely.