Lavario, one of the world’s leading suppliers of self-help programs against gambling addictions has surveyed its customers. The objective was to find out why they started the treatment against the addiction. Numerous explanations and reasons were given.  As you would expect,  financial problems and debt were among the main reasons to motivate gamblers to seek help. Most gamblers accumulate debt – not just with credit cards and on their bank accounts, but also with family and friends where they borrowed money and obviously never pay it back. Somewhat surprising is perhaps the fact that ahead of money problems, fears of ruining and losing their relationships  were the no. 1 reason for starting the treatment against gambling addiction. It needs to be considered that gamblers who start a therapy usually are not completely hopeless, yet, and often still live in a relationship or marriage. However, there are several factors that put the relationship more and more at risk: lying to the partner, trying to hide the gambling activities and the dimension of the debt problem, changes in character, tiredness, stress, anxiety, impatience etc.  At a certain point, the partner won’t accept the addiction anymore and will leave the relationship or marriage. Usually, this happens only after a long period (often years) of suffering and after many futile efforts to help the partner overcome the addiction.

Other frequently mentioned themes were the fear of losing employment and the fear that the addiction will get stronger unless something is done against it.  With regards to the fear of losing the job, it’s important to understand that gamblers often neglect their jobs, feel tired, use lunch breaks to gamble or borrow money from colleagues. They might also be aggressive and might even start gambling on the internet while being at work, e.g. sports betting, online poker, stock market.  The fear of the addiction getting worse is realistic. Normally, problems get bigger over time and debts increase.

The survey also assessed why patients chose a self-help program instead of seeing a counselor or getting treatment in an addiction clinic. A self help program is chosen as a treatment option for various reasons. Firstly, it guarantees anonymity, i.e. patients don’t need to open up to psychotherapists or counselors who they never met before. For many people with addiction problems it is scary to tell strangers about their problems and darkest secrets.  Secondly, they appreciate that they can start breaking the addiction immediately and don’t have waiting time. All documents can be downloaded from the internet within a few minutes.