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Course of the illness

Gambling addiction frequently begins with an early big win

A winning phase with frequent wins for occasional gambling can lead for some people to an increased sense of self-esteem, an unrealistic level of optimism and dreams of further big wins.

Habitual phase

Gambling then begins to dominate the addict’s thoughts. In this phase, gambling addicts increasingly neglect their friends, hobbies, family and job. Everything centers solely on gambling. Their social surroundings lose evermore significance. They can no longer imagine spending a day or a week without gambling. But they conceal their problems, and work and social conflicts begin to develop.

Loss of control

The next phase is accompanied by an increasing loss of control, i.e. the gamblers can soon no longer decide for themselves if they want to gamble or not. They have to gamble – and they have to do so more and more often, more quickly and for increasingly higher stakes.

They develop withdrawal symptoms (“craving”). They feel ill when they’re not gambling. They experience tension and panic attacks. They can’t sleep. When they start gambling again, it gives them a temporary sense of release. But this is also accompanied by feelings of guilt. These create new tension, which in turn prompts them to gamble again. In the third phase, gamblers have already lost control. Addicts report that it is then no longer about winning and losing, it is only about gambling for as long as possible and for increasingly higher stakes.

Most gambling addicts conceal their addiction, not least because addictive orders are highly stigmatized in modern society. A gambling addiction is not seen as an illness, but as a character weakness. There are a large number of preventive measures that can be taken to prevent this illness from developing, including first and foremost educating and providing people with information about gambling.

Addicts' stories

In the following video, former gambling addicts recount their experiences with this illness.

To read the sub-titles in English, please click on the "CC" button on the right of the menu bar.

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