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500,000 gambling addicts in Germany

1 July 2015

Nearly half a million people in the federal republic suffer from gambling addiction, which is considered a mental disorder according to a study on pathological gambling and epidemiology (PAGE) from 2011. Another 3.5 million have at least problems with gambling. On those numbers hardly anything has changed in recent years. The greatest risk of addiction lies in slot machines, but also roulette, blackjack, poker and sports betting in particular have a risk potential. A therapy with psychotherapeutic discussions and group work can help those affected. Especially conversations with fellow sufferers and persons who were able to defeat their gambling addictions has helped many of those affected, explains the addiction and social therapist Weiding. About 60 percent of problem gamblers are able to overcome their addiction by such therapy. However, this is not a cure, because a gambling addiction is considered a chronic disease. In reality, only a satisfied and stable abstinence can be achieved through such therapy. Another effective protection for gamblers is the consistent implementation of gambling suspensions, which can, according to some national and international studies, effectively protect the addicts.

Experts complain that the casinos with their commitment to ban gambling addiction at risk currently fulfil their obligations only hesitantly. A large number of gambling addicts trivialize or supplant their addiction, because an essential feature of all addictions is the dominance of the addictive behaviour over sanity. Only profound private or financial problems like a separation or the loss of a job shake the sick and for this reason it is important that friends, family or partners pay attention to such negative changes and take a stand and lead the possible consequences to the eyes of the ones concerned. Options can be blocking access to joint accounts or to threat partners to move out as a final consequence. But friends and family should not drop the gamblers but rather show emphatically that his behaviour has negative consequences. A gambling addict typically just continues to play when threats remain without consequence, because there is no real reason to stop. Often relatives have to take loans and will thereby also indirectly fall in the debt trap. The hope is wrong that the game addicts will no longer play once the loans are paid back, because by that money not the loved ones are supported, but the portion of the gambling addict.

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