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Gambling is one of the world's most lucrative and fastest-growing markets. Angie Bachmann, a housewife who is dissatisfied with her life and routine, is featured in Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit. Angie takes to gambling to relieve her boredom and isolation, but she loses everything (Duhigg 30). Maxi Chambers' essay What I Lost by Gambling also addresses a risky gambling problem that took away her family and trust before she was able to quit it (Chambers). Bachmann tries to eliminate her habit of gambling but fails while on other hand Chambers successfully curbs her desire to gamble, albeit through a prolonged struggle and sacrifice. The divergent outcomes of Bachmann and Chambers attempts indicate that gambling is a habit that can be cured only if understood, acknowledged and replaced by a good habit that offers similar satisfaction.
Bachmann and Chambers start gambling to deal with a certain problem in their daily lives but result in becoming impulsive gamblers. Bachmann begins gambling at the casino to fill up her mundane days as a housewife. At first, she only gambles once a week on Friday to reward herself. Chambers also starts her gambling addiction with a simple game of bingo that catches her attention. It is reported that many people turn to gambling in a bid to cure other weaknesses in their lives; be it loneliness, failure or low confidence. Nakken argues that the addictive cycle appears when a person strives to feel relieved and avoid unpleasant feelings and situations instead of dealing with one’s emotional needs. (23). The rush obtained from gambling is like a drug to the individual gambler, and it becomes a habit in a person’s life. Bachmann starts with the intention of escaping her boring routine life but becomes addicted in a few months. Chambers changes from an upstanding mother, wife and church member to a disgraced and fallen divorcee in just a few years due to gambling.
Addiction to gambling turns both Bachmann’s and Chambers’ lives upside down. While it all started as a well-meaning distraction, they both became quickly addicted to gambling and turned into impulsive gamblers. Bachmann and Chamber cannot seem to stop gambling once they are started, and they soon find themselves trapped in a hopeless addictive cycle of gambling. The most obvious implication that gambling creates for impulsive gamblers is financial mismanagement (Bell). Bachmann loses her discipline after her parents’ illness and starts gambling up to thrice a week losing significant amount of money in the process (Duhigg 42). She loses a connection with her family, and the time she should spend at home she wastes gambling in the casino.
Eventually, she gambles all her family property including a one million dollar inheritance from her parents. Chambers finds herself deep in debt, and she has to keep lying and borrowing money from unaware family members and colleagues (Chambers). Gambling costs Chambers her marriage and family; a situation she blames herself for. Eventually, she comes clean to her family and pastor and seeks forgiveness. Chambers manages to overturn her gambling addiction through hard work and determination and sacrifice, but Bachmann falls back into gambling until she is declared bankrupt. From the stories of these two ladies and several others, it is evident that gambling is a dangerous habit that can destroy the families and lives of the gamblers and their beloved ones.
Gambling addiction can be overturned by establishing the innate reason for gambling and finding another activity to provide the same effect. Duhigg provides a seemingly simple formula for beating gambling addiction (44). To this effect, he breaks down gambling as a habit into three; the cue, routine, and reward. The cue represents the reason for gambling, the routine is the gambling action itself, and the reward is the satisfaction obtained from gambling. Duhigg argues that it is impossible to stop gambling and that only developing a new habit in its place can help a compulsive person to quit (55). There are many avenues to address gambling addiction like counseling and attending special groups where the affected persons meet to share experiences and support each other (Chambers). Nevertheless, it all depends on the individual and a person’s will to accept that one has a problem and seeks the necessary help to fix it.
In conclusion, gambling is a damaging habit that can be fixed by finding an alternative good habit that will occupy one’s mind and provide similar rewards. Most gamblers engage in this process for simple reasons like boredom and change to become compulsive gamblers. Gambling destroys the addict’s life in many ways leading to bankruptcy, hopelessness and even suicide. Thus, the gamblers have to acknowledge the underlying problem that made them start gambling and channel another activity towards fulfilling that need. All in all, addiction to gambling is a complex habit that requires acceptance and gradual steps coupled with grit and unwavering determination to quit.
Bell, Noel. The 10 Most Successful Ways of Overcoming Gambling Urges. 2 February 2016. Print. 29 November 2017.
Chambers, Maxi. “What I Lost By Gambling.” Today's Christian Woman, 1 Nov. 1996, www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/1996/november/6w6074.html.
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.
Nakken, Craig. The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior. Center City: Hazelden Publishing, 1996. Print.
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