It’s easy to become addicted to a substance or an activity. At the root of it all lies the fact that people get surges of serotonin and dopamine when they drink, do drugs, or go on gambling sprees, and after a while, drinking, doing drugs or gambling becomes not only a habit, but the only important thing in a person’s life. Problem gamblers will do anything to keep gambling, and that has the potential to ruin their lives. Problem gamblers run the risk of losing their jobs, hurting their husbands or wives and children, and other family members and friends, but the most dangerous thing about problem gambling is that it can lead to suicide. According to results of studies conducted in the past decade, problem gamblers commit suicide a lot more often than other addicts.
Gambling addiction is just as dangerous as any other addiction, maybe even more so. It doesn’t discriminate in age or gender, both men and women become can become addicted to gambling, and the recent increase of problem gamblers who are students or seniors, it’s pretty obvious that age does not matter either. Getting help is imperative, as well as spreading awareness of gambling addiction. While the first Gamblers Anonymous meeting was held in the fifties, the methods of battling gambling addiction are largely based on methods that have been developed for alcoholics or substance abusers. Click here to find more information about problem gambling.
How can dogs help?
Dogs cannot cure gambling addiction, nor any addiction. But dogs can are loyal companions that ask for responsibility and attention, and have the power to change a person’s life in a positive manner. When it comes to gambling addiction, the recovery period can be riddled with ups and downs, relapses and crisis moments, anxiety and depression. It is highly important to seek help – through joining a local Gamblers Anonymous group, seeking the help from a rehabilitation institution, or a professional therapist, as well as the help from family and friends. Owning a dog during this period in life might seem counterproductive, it might seem like it would lead to more stress, but the truth is different. Getting a dog while battling gambling addiction can be really good for the recovering problem gambler. Below, you can find several reasons why.
Dogs help in switching focus
The easiest way to discover whether a person is addicted to gambling or not is by how much they focus on it. Not by how much money they spend betting or on the slots, or by how much time they spend gambling, be it at a casino or online, but by how much they think of gambling during the day or night. Problem gamblers think about gambling while at work, at home, anywhere really, and their mind constantly shows them scenarios where they enjoy gambling and win everything. Today, with online gambling available for anyone, anywhere, this is a big problem, because in the past, problem gamblers often couldn’t travel to a casino or a betting store to satisfy the need and act out the scenario in their mind. It changes a lot when all you need to do is click here to visit a website and be able to bet or gamble.
But dogs can help the addict switch focus. Naturally, when you own a dog you’re responsible for its wellbeing and health, and you need to make sure it is well fed and happy. This helps problem gamblers focus on something other than gambling and it takes their mind off of the situation they are in.
Dogs can ease stress and anxiety
The recovery period for a problem gambler can be riddled with stress, anxiety and depression, because once the problem gambler faces reality, what they have done, all the money they spent and how many people they hurt, it can get psychologically difficult for them to cope. In addition, once the problem gambler has stopped gambling, his or her body suffers withdrawal symptoms due to the fact that the only time the body surged with dopamine and serotonin was when they gambled.
The innocence and playfulness of dogs often reminds us of children, and playing with a dog can not only help fill the time, but it can also induce the surge of dopamine and serotonin in a person’s body. In other words, being around dogs can make the problem gamblers feel good, and as such ease stress and anxiety.
Dogs help prevent relapse
Owning a dog means that the dog will be around all the time. Dogs are highly sensitive to their owner’s mood and emotional state. In fact, they can notice the signs when something is wrong, be it physically or emotionally. It is highly important that recovering addicts to not fall back into the clutches of problem gambling, that they do not suffer through a relapse, because after a relapse, it becomes a lot more difficult to get back on track, and relapses only increase the levels of stress and anxiety, because the problem gambler knows he or she had done something wrong.
But since dogs are always around, they will notice the signs, the shifts in mood, and they will change their own behavior in return, and again, make the problem gambler shift his or her focus from his or her own self, to the dog. Once the focus is switched, it will be easier for the problem gambler to either seek help in a moment of crisis, or simply focus on playing with the dog until the urge goes away. Sometimes, even a simple walk out of the house can help.
Dogs provide emotional support
Improving upon emotional relationships with family and friends is important during the recovery period, because healing addiction is not a process one can handle alone. While the support of family and friends, as well as other members of support groups, is important, the emotional relationship between a dog and a problem gambler can also be beneficial. This is because sometimes, other people, no matter how close to us, can say the wrong thing, can behave in a certain manner which might upset the recovering addict and set them back on the path to addiction. People are not perfect, and of course, these situations always happen for a reason, but the path of recovery is tricky and very easily detoured by such emotional conflicts.
On the other hand, dogs are loyal to their owner, they do not have a voice to say the wrong things with. They are loving, and seek only to be well and happy, and they are happiest when their owner takes good care of them, and pays them attention. In this way, dogs can be a great source of emotional support, they are not able to judge a person, and recovering problem gamblers can always lean on their dog when they feel like the relationships with other people have become difficult to handle.