Perhaps no technology has done more to increase the rate of gambling addiction in the United States than the Internet.
What was once an activity confined to the bars and backrooms of America, or the casinos of Las Vegas is now, thanks to the Web, beamed into the living rooms and dorm rooms of everyone with a computer and a phone line. The following is a look at how Internet gambling addiction has impacted the lives of every day Americans, and what you can do to help those who suffer from this compulsive behavior.
Why is the Internet so Dangerous?
Imagine that you are sitting at a poker or blackjack table in Las Vegas. You could probably play about 20 hands every hour if everything is moving along without delay. There are pit bosses, casino staff and perhaps even friends nearby to monitor your progress and make sure you are not exceeding your limits. Now imagine you are sitting in your bedroom playing these same table games. There is nobody around to tell to you to stop. Thanks to the technology, you are playing hundreds of hands per hour – with many more opportunities to lose everything. Now you are beginning to see why Internet gambling is considered a danger to those with compulsive behavior problems.
Stemming the Tide
Some lawmakers have taken strides to stop the rise of Internet gambling. They have passed legislation that prevents American credit card companies from performing transactions with online gaming companies. This has helped stem growth of the activity somewhat, but there are still many people who find ways to open accounts, fund them and play. With the repeal of these laws a possibility, it is important to educate the public about the potential dangers of Internet gaming and, more importantly, continue to develop addiction treatment centers that meet the needs of those who suffer from gambling addiction.
Who is at Risk?
Compulsive internet gambling can impact men and women of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
There are two demographics that have been particularly hard hit by this problem: college students and the elderly. Internet gambling addiction statistics have grown fast on college campuses in recent years, with students disregarding their studies and clearing out their bank accounts to support their habits. Senior citizens, with their free time and a lack of supervision have also seen jumps in online gambling addiction in recent years. For those on a fixed income – or who are living off of their savings, this is dangerous behavior indeed.
There are a growing number of addiction treatment centers that now offer full rehab programs that have many different gambling addiction treatment benefits. These programs run in much the same way as drug and alcohol rehab – with a strong emphasis on counseling. Gambling addiction counseling helps individuals understand the root causes of their problem, and learn how cope with temptation and other environmental issues that lead to the behavior.
When gambling addiction treatment is complete, the individual should have alternative activities to replace the gambling that has dominated their lives for so long.
Internet gambling addiction can destroy relationships, finances and mental health. Professional treatment offers solutions that strengthen the mind, body and spirit of the individual.