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Online gambling: a normal pastime… or an addiction?

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Jakarta, IO – The Covid-19 pandemic left us with multiple activities that we can engage in online, whether in front of a computer or walking around and tapping on a gadget. Studying, learning to cook, playing a game – all of these can be performed online. Therefore, it is no surprise that financial transactions, including shopping and gambling, can also be performed online. 

Online gambling covers the gamut from the extremely simple, such as a puzzle of role-play gaming, sport battling, baccarat, casino online, or even slot machine gambling. The ease of access and play method using cellphones, as well as the incredible variety of online gambling available, trick and trap people into what can only be categorized as an addiction. 

Which begs the question, “How does a person become addicted to online gambling?” 

“We frequently connect gambling to cultural habits. Yes, some aspects of our culture include gambling. For example, our ancestors used to engage in cockfights. We also played cards, rolled dice, and even played dominoes in our leisure time, or during breaks in the ronda neighborhood patrol. Initially, this was done merely for fun and socializing. However, it could eventually turn into a habit and an addiction, which is a psychological abnormality as severe as a drug or alcohol addiction. No matter the substance or behavior, all addicts suffer damage in the region of their brains that generate dopamine. This causes huge cravings that must be satisfied no matter what – they will lie, beg, borrow, steal or kill to sate this desperate hunger,” warned Dr. dr. Kristiana Siste Kurniasanti, Sp.KJ(K), psychiatry specialist in addiction consultation at the RSCM Kencana Jakarta in the “Online Gambling: A Normal Phenomenon, or an Illness?” live IG session held on Tuesday (18/7/2023). 

Even though it is a type of disorder, it is best for us not to self-diagnose, let alone self-treat, an addiction. Furthermore, it is best and wisest not to panic when you realize how much you like this activity: “There are requirements to be met before you can say that a person is addicted, especially to gambling. First, the person has lost control of themselves. They want to gamble anytime, anywhere, on anything, and for longer and longer durations. Second, they prioritize the activity to such an extent that it disrupts all other daily activities, such as sleeping, working, and socializing. Third, they already suffer from the negative impacts of the activity, but they continue anyway. Or even worse, they actually double down on the intensity, frequency, and duration of the addictive activity, within the past 12 months or sooner. This is how we can tell that the person suffers from gambling addiction disorder,” Dr. Kristiana said. 

Impulsiveness and Other Risk Factors 

A person might become interested in online gambling because the wager usually starts as small as two thousand Rupiah, while there is the potential for winning up to a million. The addict will discount all their losses, no matter how great, and only remember their winnings, no matter how meager. 

However, some individuals have a higher risk or vulnerability than others of becoming addicted to online gambling. According to clinical experience, men are more vulnerable to this addiction than women; and teens and young adults are more vulnerable than either adults or elders. People with previous emotional or behavioral issues, such as low self-esteem or high impulsiveness, or those who want things instantly; or even people raised with a permissive nurturance pattern, tend to become addicted to online gambling. 

In many cases, the addict does not even care that they will get into trouble as a result of their gambling addiction. They feel that skipping school or work, not leaving the home for days on end, not taking a bath or a meal, or getting chased by debt collectors, are minor distractions that do not matter. Since online gambling can be performed anywhere, there is even no need to leave the home to do it; family members are the ones who must read the warning signs of gambling addiction, such as becoming quiet and anxious, which may be caused by an already high level of debt. 

Read: New Domestic Outbreak Of Human Anthrax

The family may restrict the addict’s access to the internet and cut off their money in an attempt to bring them back. However, such measures tend to be futile. It would be better to take the addict to a psychotherapist, as online gambling addiction must be treated early to avoid the onset of personal, family, social, and legal problems. 

“Therapy may reduce the severity of online gambling, as well as preventing recurrence. But only for a time. It is a long-term treatment that must be performed regularly and consistently. As addiction is a chronic illness, it takes at least 3-6 months of consistent and comprehensive therapy to see significant changes,” Dr. Kristiana warned. (est)

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