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#1 Posted : Thursday, 12 July 2012 6:22:00 p.m.(UTC)

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Its been a wee while since i posted(1 year) and like most i have had a relapse, or whatever you want to call it, 3 weeks ago.

i previously sought councelling and while short term this was effective, long term the beast again raised its head.

I have, today, started seeing a psyciatrist regarding this and other issues. We have spoken about root cause and also strategy, long term.

Short term, he has suggested i 'clamp' my compulsion, and medication may be the answer. He was unsure offhand what may be available in this respect.

Has anyone come across anything available in new zealand? Also i want to be wary of side effects. i would appreciate any information or links on this, just to explore.
#2 Posted : Saturday, 14 July 2012 12:32:00 a.m.(UTC)

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Hi, sorry to hear you had a relapse. I totally understand where you are coming from as I was a victim of the pokies and honestly thought I was going insane and I could not see a way out. It was not until I did a lot of research into these insidious machines and understood how they are designed to program your mind little by little until you are totally hooked. Belwo is an article that you may find intersting and helpful - it certainly opened my eyes and mind !
Article published following 60 Minutes “Big Gamble”

I am a gambling counsellor. I have taken helpline calls and worked with gambling addicts whose lives have been destroyed by gambling and whose only desire is to quit. This segment on 60 Minutes only touched the surface of what is quickly becoming a national epidemic and, understandably, did not have time to present all the information. It is not the video slot machines that are addictive; rather, it is the chemicals that are released by the activity on the screens that are addictive. For those people who are predisposed to addiction, the release of those chemicals – endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline – trigger all their addictive responses in the same way that a hit of meth or a bottle of Jack would. A good many gambling addicts are recovering alcoholics or drug addicts who never realized that going into a casino for some fun and entertainment would drive them down the same deadly road again. These are not bad people. They are people who have made poor choices as a result of living with the disease called addiction. They are accountable for their actions and choices and, in the moments when they are clear-headed and the chemicals levels have dropped, they know that. They struggle with the overwhelming need for a “fix” hour by hour, as they cope with withdrawal from the chemical highs or escape that playing the video slots provides them. It is a disease that progresses as quickly as many other aggressive chronic diseases and the prognosis can be just as lethal. The suicide rate for gamblers is higher than for alcoholics and drug addicts COMBINED. These are people who have, in many cases, lost everything – their families, jobs, homes, cars – and see no way out. The hardest part of this addiction is that there is so little public awareness around the fact that it’s not a matter of gamblers having no willpower or self-control, it’s about chemical addiction. They do not wake up in the morning thinking, “Today, I’m going to [insert any or all of the following] withdraw every penny from my kids’ college fund, take out an equity loan on my house, hock my wife’s jewellery, steal the money from the pension fund where I work… and lose it all at the casino.” But sometimes, that’s what happens.
60 minutes - The big Gamble
Old fashioned slot machines let gamblers pull the handle and hope for three of a kind, but the modern slots are like high tech video games that play music and scenes from TV shows.

You can play hundreds of lines at once and instead of pulling a handle, you bet by pushing buttons, which means each bet can be completed in as little as three and a half seconds. It looks like great fun, but it can be dangerously addictive.

"Whether or not it's their intention, the gambling industry is designing machines that can addict people," MIT anthropology Professor Natasha Schull told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl.

Schull has studied gambling addiction for over 15 years. She has interviewed gamblers, casino owners and slot machine designers.

"Do you think that most people would even think that a machine could addict you? That a machine could do the same thing that a drug could?" Stahl asked.

"What addiction really has to do is with the speed of rewards. And these machines, if they're packing 1,200 hands per hour into play, you could see that as being exposed to a higher dose," Schull said.

"A higher dose," says Schull, because all that speed means more bets and that means more excitement.

And no machine is better for that than the "penny slot," the most popular game on the casino floor. Because the bets are small, you can place hundreds of them at a time.

"Another core aspect of the addictiveness is their continuous nature. You're not interrupted by anything; you're not waiting for the horses to run, you're not waiting for the guy next to you to choose his card to put down; there's no roulette wheel spinning. It's just you and the machine. It's a continuous flow without interruption," Schull said.

"I found that the machines were wonderful. I loved the excitement. I loved the people, I loved the camaraderie, the high fives when you win. It was just very exciting," Sandi Hall told Stahl.

Hall lives only a short drive from thousands of slot machines in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Married with two daughters, she worked in a bookstore, and used to look at the casinos as an entertaining break. But eventually she was playing slots so much, she burned through her retirement funds.

"My every thought and every being, if I wasn't at the casino, I was figuring out how I was going to get there, where was I going to get the money," she remembered.

When Stahl pointed out she sounds like a heroin addict, Hall said, "It takes your soul, it takes your humanity. You drive home, pounding the steering wheel, promising yourself you're never going to go again, you're never going to do it again. And you know that you're going down, and you're going down, and you're going down. I became from a nice person, I became a manipulative, deceitful, lying person

"Lies just manufacture themselves. You didn't even have to think about it," Marilyn Lancelot, another slot addict, told Stahl.

Lancelot ended up embezzling over a quarter million dollars from her employer in Phoenix, Ariz. "My daughters lived two houses away, they did not know I was stealing money or gambling until one day, seven police cars drove into my yard and took me away in handcuffs. That's how they found out," she remembered.

"This is gambling for gambling sake, and the aim is not to win a jackpot," Natasha Schull said.

Schull is not talking about most people who go to casinos - she's only taking about addicted gamblers.

"Are you saying they would rather stay in the game than win the money?" Stahl asked.

"Not only am I saying that, but I found instances where gamblers who won a jackpot then became irritated because it stopped the flow of play," Schull replied.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada measured how players respond physiologically while they gamble, and showed that the new machines can make them think they're winning even when they're not.

The gambler almost always gets some money back: if he puts in a dollar, he might get back 50 cents. But the sounds and flickering lights trick his brain into thinking he came out ahead.

The constant feeling of winning creates so much pleasure, says Schull, that regular players can slip into a trance-like state, a place she calls the "zone."

"One gambler told me that when he's in the zone he couldn't remember his children's name," Schull said.

"You go into that trance, that zone, that box. Nobody can touch you. You have escaped from reality. No one can ask you for anything," Sandi Hall explained.

"When you sat in front of those machines, did you get into the zone? Did you have a buzz?" Stahl asked Marilyn Lancelot.

"I was having a love affair with that machine. That was my love. If anybody came it near it, touched it, 'Back off. Don't touch my machine.' It was the same as a kiss from a lover," she replied. "It was sweet. Sweet."

And yet not everyone is convinced the machines addict people. Listen to Dr. Howard Shaffer, the director of the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions, the man the gambling industry loves to quote.

"And your position is machines are not addictive, that machines, inanimate objects, are not addictive?" Stahl asked.

"Machines didn't make me do!" he replied with a smile. "If slot machines caused addiction, then most people who played slot machines would develop addiction, and it's the opposite."

"But at one point you said that slot machines were the 'crack cocaine' of gambling," Stahl pointed out. "And how does that square with what you're telling me today?"

"Not everybody who uses crack cocaine becomes addicted," Dr. Shaffer said.

"Yeah, but nobody's going to sit here and try to tell me crack cocaine isn't addictive. And if this is like crack cocaine, the conclusion is it's addictive," Stahl said.

"I don't come to the same conclusion," Shaffer replied.

"How could you not?" Stahl asked.

"Because a majority of people that have used cocaine have not developed cocaine addiction. Only a small minority have, and the same would be true with gambling," he replied.
The problem is that that small minority that does get addicted is hit hard.

"You are getting a little dose of gambling in your brain every three seconds. It's a gambling IV and there's a 'drip, drip, drip,'" Dr. Robert Breen told Stahl.

Drs. Breen and Henry Lesieur are gambling addiction specialists at Rhode Island Hospital. They've treated 1,300 slot addicts who, when they try to stop, look like heroin addicts in withdrawal.

"And they're coming in and they're quite literally, they have shakes," Dr. Lesieur explained. "They're physically having these responses. And you tell yourself: they gotta be on something and it turns out they're withdrawing from the gambling."

According to Lesieur, it's slots in particular.

And yet state after state is turning to slots as an easy way to raise revenue and increase jobs. And no state has been more aggressive in luring gaming in the last few years than Pennsylvania, where the opening of the "SugarHouse" in September made Philadelphia the largest U.S. city to house a casino.

So far there are ten gambling halls in the state, with plans for 61,000 slot machines. An 11th casino, on the drawing board, would be near the main entrance to the Gettysburg National Battlefield.

Governor Ed Rendell, who's about to leave office, championed the casinos. "Look, gambling is not anything we should say, 'Oh, thank the Lord, we have gambling.' But it is a decent way to raise revenue where the upsides that's produced is significantly better than any downside that comes from it," he told Stahl.

"You said there was downsides to gaming. What are they?" Stahl asked.

"The biggest downside is that some people lose their paychecks. But understand, Lesley, they're not losing their paychecks because Pennsylvania instituted gaming. These people were losing their paychecks in Atlantic City, in Delaware at the racetracks or in West Virginia," Gov. Rendell said.

"So why not lose it here," Stahl remarked.

"Well if they were going to lose it anyway, let's get the upside. We were getting all the downside and none of the upside," Rendell said.

The upside, he says, is the $1 billion the state got in gambling revenue last year, which was used to provide a $200-a-home property tax reduction, plus more relief for senior citizens.

"People have been gambling since organized society was formed on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates. They were gambling. And they will gamble as long as there's life on this planet. And that's a fact," Rendell told Stahl.

"No one is saying that people can't gamble. This is about government using gambling to prey on human weakness for profit," Les Bernal, who heads the national organization "Stop Predatory Gambling," told Stahl.

Bernal and Massachusetts State Senator Sue Tucker have been fighting a move to bring casinos and slot parlors to the Bay State.

"We are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the daily voice of government to most Americans is: We're going to push casinos and we're going to push lottery tickets," Bernal said.

"Well but you have a situation where states are desperate, they're way over budget, they have to find revenue somewhere. They know people will gamble," Stahl pointed out.

"As a revenue raiser it defies every principle. It's regressive. In other words, it takes far more money out of lower income people's pockets than higher income. It is cannibalistic. In other words, it eats other forms of revenue. When you have your citizens dumping two billion dollars down the slots they're not buying a new car, and you lose that tax," State Sen. Tucker said.

"You brought these casinos to the state. Do you ever just say to yourself, 'Oh, my God, there are a lotta people who are suffering. And they're taking whatever money they have…," Stahl asked Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell. "…and they're throwing it away in these casinos.' And do you ever just say…'Oh, what have I done?'"

"You don't listen. Anyone who has that bent would be doing it in other places had Pennsylvania not legalized gambling," Rendell argued.

"The counter argument is that you're creating new gamblers. And lots of new gamblers," Stahl said.

"We're not creating new gamblers," Rendell replied.

"Well, 'cause it's down the street," Stahl said.

"Those people play the lottery. They bet on football. How much money is bet on the Super Bowl," Rendell said.

"People are losing money for the state to get its revenue. They're losing money," Stahl said.

"Let me answer this. I've known of for two or three decades, you're a very smart person," Rendell said.

"But not now," Stahl remarked.

"But you're not getting it," Rendell replied.

"I'm dumb now," Stahl said.

"You're not getting it. Those people would lose that money anyway. Don't you understand?" Rendell replied.

Our pressing him on this point led to an angry response from Rendell: "You guys don't get that. You're simpletons. You're idiots if you don't get that!"

We couldn't figure out why all the emotion. But his main point was that gambling is good entertainment, and people should be allowed to make their own decisions about it. But since the first casino opened in Pennsylvania five years ago, calls to gambling addiction hotlines in the state have tripled.

Sandi Hall says her problems didn't start until three casinos opened near her. "I cannot read my local newspaper without having full-page ads of upcoming events and slot play, with free this and free that. The exposure is phenomenal because of the proximity of three casinos," she said.

"Fewer than 25 percent of Massachusetts residents went out of state to gamble," State Sen. Tucker told Stahl.

"But that's a lot of people," Stahl remarked.

"Seventy five percent didn't," Tucker said.

"I know, but 25 percent…," Stahl said.

"That's the group industry wants," Tucker replied. "They want the 75 percent that can get on the T and go to a nearby casino and get in trouble with gambling. That's the playbook."

#3 Posted : Thursday, 19 July 2012 12:59:00 a.m.(UTC)

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Hi exgambler 88 have just read your post.
all very true
Have been too hell and back with pokies.
At the worst point not being able to sleep, only thoughts pokies.
in morning what machine was going to be it today.
the article is so true.
Am good now after nearly 4 years then relapsing have got in control and wiser.
Take care all john

#4 Posted : Tuesday, 28 August 2012 5:15:27 a.m.(UTC)

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You know gambling like any adoictidn is a hard one to break because it's based on routine and repetitious behavior. What you are going to have to do is replace this bad habit with a good one. I commend you on wanting to go cold turkey but sometimes weaning oneself off a bad habit works better. Try that for a few weeks before you quit completely. Here are tools to help you be successful; When you get the urge to gamble .STOP yourself and ask yourself why do you what to gamble(don't stop questioning yourself until you get to the root of the answer), Next try DOING something else think of other fun things you can do to keep your mind busy, also get SUPPORT from friends or family or even support groups(no one has to go through an adoictidn alone. I commend you for being honest enough to admit you have a problem and being willing to do something to change. You are a winner in my book!!!! Best of luck!
#5 Posted : Tuesday, 28 August 2012 5:16:08 a.m.(UTC)

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No, it is an illness, and he doesn't think he is ill he will not quit, it will ctnionue, and you will end up in the poor house, or on the streets because of it.. You have no idea just how much he owes at this point, this time, this day! IF he will not seek help, there is no hope. Cut your losses and leave, for you will have a life of misery with bill collectors chasing you, electric shut off, etc. And, about the time you cannot pay rent, perhaps you will wise up. I don't care how much he cries, etc., it is not going to change. The marriage is NOT a priority, gambling is his only priority. Kids can be hungry, and he will still be at the track .seen it too often to not know what I am talking about. This is no different than an alcoholic you cannot change him, only he can do that. Run.
#6 Posted : Sunday, 10 July 2016 10:16:24 a.m.(UTC)

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One of my known was also suffering from similar problem, inspite of going for much medication,he got no relief from such nonsense habit. I told him the procedure of meditation, and gave him 100% surety that he will over come with this problem. What i said he did, now he is a free man from such bad addiction.
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