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Gambling vs. Drug addiction? What is your opinion?

Posted Oct 31 2009 11:39am

Joe Herzanek

Not long ago we posted this question on an Al-Anon blog site.
We're reposting it here along with some of the responses we received and Joe's response at the bottom. Feel free to express your own 2$ worth!

This topic/comment/question was posed to me by someone who is in the midst of experiencing firsthand, the devastation caused by Meth–on a mother, her child and the surrounding family. I asked her if we could post this topic to see what others have to say.

Thoughts please. . . What is your opinion?

I work at a Casino, in the Spa, doing massage therapy. We had a mandatory meeting about “responsible gambling” and how we are supposed to handle the topic with our clients. Here is what got me–the speaker posed this question– “True or false, it is easier to spot a drug addict/alcoholic addiction then a person with a gambling addiction.”

Answer? she said “true.” I said “not true.” She asked me why. I said, “because addiction, any addiction follows the same path, runs the same course, AA, NA, GA, SA, EA,–they all have the same program for the simple reason–the signs are the same. You see the signs, you know what you are looking at–addiction.

Was my answer wrong? She said I was wrong, and she also said a gambling addiction is financially more devastating, because it is all about money. Well, depends on what you see as financially devastating–the loss of money, or the loss of your life little by little. . . ?

Reply by Selena:
“I know first-hand that addiction is addiction. It is deadly however you look at it. Some forms may be financially more deadly, while others may mean that you give away your *self*. I sure did. Now that I am aware of what addiction looks like, I can spot it wherever I go, not because I’m some great detective, but because that was my life once.

And I’m talking from my own experience with sugar addiction and codependence here. Whenever I’d get one part of my addiction in check, it would pop up in another area of my life until I discovered recovery.

Great topic!”

Reply by Jen:
“I have to agree. Addiction is addiction. It doesn’t matter what the drug. Be it money, meth, alcohol, food, or entanglement in the lives of others. It is all equally devastating, though that devastation can come in many forms.”

Reply by Sharon H.:
Hi Judy, the answer to this question lies in understanding what “addiction” is.

“Addiction is a spiritual problem - and specifically, it is a WORSHIP DISORDER. And this disorder manifests itself through various behaviour patterns, viz (Rom 7:15) “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.”

This disorder ( addiction) occurs when people displace the Living God from the centre of their inward being and outward life. So that there exists a gaping void in their life that needs to be filled. And addictions are the means of filling the void.

Based on this definition, anything that becomes more important to us than God, and anything that controls our life other than the Living God, is classed as an addiction - and is a form of “idolatory”. Everything, other than the Living God, must be had/done in moderation and small doses.

We must therefore always be looking at our own lives to ensure that we are not bing controlled by a substance ( eg cigarettes, food, caffeine,sugar,etc ), another person ( husband, boss,children, friends, parents, in-laws, pets ), or activities ( eg cell phone, Internet, gym, gambling, gossipping, career, sex, TV, sleep,shopping, money,dieting,etc)”

Reply by Joe Herzanek:
Hi Sharon,

Thanks for commenting. I agree with much of what you have said about the spiritual part of addiction, especially the verse from Romans. At the same time I feel there are several more components to alcohol and drug addiction. I can’t lump these in with many of the other things on your list. Cigarettes, caffeine, in-laws, pets, and going to the gym are in a different league than methamphetamine, alcohol and opiate pain meds etc.

These have a clinically proven effect on the brain and central nervous system. They cause brain damage. Once the brain and central nervous system have been conditioned or ‘trained’ to expect these substances they will revolt when they no longer get them.

Many people begin using these as an experiment and to ‘have fun.’ The biological dependency develops slowly and insidiously over time. No one sets out to become an addict. Some begin using as a coping skill to deal with a current, past or ongoing traumatic event.

Complete abstinence, quitting, becomes complicated.

Society has begun to call many things ‘addictions’ that I would not. Some of these are just compulsive behaviors that are much less difficult to take care of.

The journey becomes a process that has parts to it. The spiritual part is a big one but it’s not the only one. As a follower of Christ myself I have seen some of my brothers and sisters in the Lord try to just label this as another sin and people just need to stop sinning. I wish it were that simple.

Grace and peace, Joe

Author/ Why Don't They Just Quit?

President/ Changing Lives Foundation


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