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8 important things you need to know about gambling addiction and how you can help solve the problem

A week after the Resorts World Manila attack, details about gunman Jessie Carlos’ personal problems continue to unravel. His parents and his wife admitted that he was a gambling addict.

Below are a eight things worth knowing, in case we find ourselves dealing with someone battling out gambling addiction.

1. Beginner’s luck is often how it starts. Jessie Carlos was a big gambling addict, who got hooked to the legal, government-supported activity with a big win.

In an interview on DZBB Thursday, reformed addict and founding chair of Gamblers Anonymous Raegan Praferosa said it was the same for him. “It was [getting] a big reward from ‘investing’ a small capital [that] will get you started.”

The thrill of the big win compels a person to do it again and again, and then s/he does  it some more, until losses start to take place. “Then you start chasing your losses.”

2. Losses become personal. Continues Reagan, “the dealer becomes an enemy, the house becomes an enemy.” Which is exactly what psychiatrist Dr. Ma. Bernadette Arcena noticed from the released CCTV videos of Carlos. “Kita mo yung galit niya, especially when he was firing the gasoline. Kita mo na yung sama ng luob niya. Iba na yung pagiisip niya. He was very desperate,” the doctor noted in her interview on Unang Balita on Wednesday.

3. The urge to continue is stronger than the resolve to change. Gambling sets off hormones in your system setting you off to an imbalance of sorts — dopamine in particular, which helps control the brain’s rewards and pleasure centers, surges in a person. Says Raegan, the thought of stopping only lasts as long — or as short — as the sting of a loss. "Yung urge ng gambling yung malakas," he emphasized.

4. Gamblers are good pretenders and good liars. They can downplay their problems, which is how they end up with so much debt; friends continue to lend money because gamblers will always minimize the problem.

5. They think can fix it on their own. According to Raegan, this is what goes on in the mind of a gambling addict: “I can change everything as long as a win.” Which is why the idea of another round is so attractive to them and borrowing money is of little consequence. “Gamblers think they can fix their problems by themselves,” continues Raegan.

Adds Dr. Arcena, they don’t realize that they need help.

6. No gambling addict will change on his own. Says Raegan, gambling addicts either go through any or most of these three things before snapping out of it or before his loved ones try to do something to sort the problem: (a) jail (b) institution or (c) death. “When I was jailed because of gambling, that was my family’s awakening,” Raegan says. 

7. Banning the addict from casino isn’t enough. In fact, Dr. Arcena says, it could worsen the problem. “It will create more anger, more violence, and rage in the person,” she says.

Solving the problem takes a village: family, friends, rehabilitation, proper counseling, and medicines. Says Raegan, it was an intervention from his family, “when they brought me to a psych ward that served as my wake-up call.” He then went to rehab and then to counseling.

8. Recovery is a lifetime process. This is why a support group is important. Upon leaving rehab, Raegan realized there wasn’t a support group he could turn to. So he helped himself. He got in touch with Gamblers Anonymous in the US and brought it here.

In case you know anybody who needs help, call +639175054080 or visit —LA, GMA News