A gambling addiction is the visible symptom of the underlying anxiety, angst, depression, or all three together. When someone goes to the slot machines, the bingo, or the casino in an addictive and compulsive manner, what he is doing is “distracting” the brain. Why?

This is what we have to find out.

The brain will get used to the level of excitement the stimuli of the lights, sounds, machines and possible prices generate, to the point where nothing else but this excites him. This causes him to anxiously wait for the next occasion in which he can throw his coins in the machine, buy a bingo card or bet at the roulette.

Can gambling addiction be cured by simple abstinence?

So what should be done? Constrain them? No, because simple repression only works on the short run. What you really need to know is what this person has done in his life that causes him to consider that being in front of a slots machine in a constant anxious ecstasy is the most interesting thing in life. It seems clear that not everything might have gone well for him before he became addicted.

Or maybe he lived a life that was so unbearably boring or monotonous, or so full of obligations, or with such a big lack of affection and emotion, that he prefers to entertain himself by stimulating the brain in a fake manner.

That’s why you have to look into the heart of the matter, and start to observe what hides behind the gambling addiction, including the one of playing poker, something that is so much in fashion these days. Once the latent problems that are generating anxiety are discovered, you have to re solve them, in a way that the life of the person starts to flow in a more satisfactory manner for him or her.  

And if the problems are serious?

There are no serious problems if you find the way to adequately resolve them.

This is the only way to liberate a person of a gambling addiction. The only way that will make them realize how stupid it is to constantly lose money with a pathological compulsion.

The important thing is to learn how to be happy and to start to generate a point of inflection in your life.

Damián Ruiz
Psychologist (COPC)
Jungian Analyst (IAAP)
Barcelona