Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc.

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Four Phases of Escape Gambling
ESCAPE GAMBLING: THE FOUR PHASES

95% OF WOMEN AND 37% OF MEN WHO CALL THE ARIZONA COUNCIL
MEET OUR CRITERIA FOR COMPULSIVE ESCAPE GAMBLING






INTRODUCTORY PHASE


Also known as the "Winning Phase," although that term does not fully describe what occurs for escape gamblers. Some may have gambled socially at some time in their lives with no adverse consequences. Some may never have gambled before. Many report knowing they were "in trouble" from their first gambling experience following predisposing factors. Characteristics may include:

SEVERAL SMALL OR EVEN LARGE MONETARY "WINNING EPISODES"

Although winning money is usually secondary for escape gamblers, they may see gambling as a way to solve financial difficulties, become financially independent or make extra money following these winning episodes.
EMOTIONAL ESCAPE
Escape from life’s problems during the act of gambling is the predominant "WIN" experienced by many escape gamblers. Money allows them to play more, escape longer. Many experience a mood-altering euphoria while at a machine.
SELF-ESTEEM BOOST
This "winning" boost comes from a FALSE SENSE OF EMPOWERMENT. Escape gamblers experience an "it’s my turn" feeling without family members present to make demands on their time and energy.
INDEPENDENCE
Yet another intoxicating "win," especially if they are in a relationship where the spouse or significant other is domineering or controlling or if physical ailments or disabilities keep them from a "normal" life.
EXCITEMENT AND LIVING ON THE EDGE
Another "winning" feeling that may be present.
SOCIAL INTERACTION
"Friendships" formed at the casino reportedly fill the void for many who suffer from loneliness.

LOSING PHASE

LOSSES ARE RATIONALIZED AS BAD LUCK; ANTICIPATION OF A "BIG WIN JUST AROUND THE CORNER"

CYCLE OF WINNING, LOSING AND BREAKING EVEN BEGINS; BAILOUTS START
NO WIN IS "ENOUGH" OR CAN SATISFY
; IT IS NOW ABOUT "HOW LONG CAN I PLAY" OR ESCAPE
LOWERED SELF ESTEEM; GAMBLING ALONE; WAGERS INCREASE; GAMBLING IS HIDDEN
MORE TIME LOST IN GAMBLING OR THINKING ABOUT GAMBLING
LYING TO COVER MONEY SPENT; BEHIND IN BILLS; BORROWING MONEY
IRRITABLE
WHEN NOT GAMBLING
NEGLIGENT
OF FAMILY OR FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES
UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS TO LIMIT OR STOP GAMBLING
GAMBLING HAS REPLACED ALL COPING SKILLS AND BECOMES A WAY TO ESCAPE LIFE’S PROBLEMS
GAMBLES LONGER THAN PLANNED; GAMBLES UNTIL LAST DOLLAR IS GONE
LOSES TIME FROM WORK; SELLS ITEMS TO FINANCE GAMBLING
FEELS REMORSE AFTER GAMBLING; ANGRY WHEN CONFRONTED ABOUT GAMBLING

DESPERATION PHASE

(Most Escape Gamblers reach this phase 1 to 3 years from the onset of compulsive gambling)

OBSESSED WITH GAMBLING
; NEGLECTS WELL BEING; SEEKS BAILOUTS

REPUTATION AFFECTED; LOSS OF FRIENDS AND/OR FAMILY
LACK OF CONCERN FOR OTHERS; DRASTIC MOOD SWINGS
ILLEGAL ACTS (EMBEZZLEMENT, BAD CHECKS, INSURANCE, CREDIT CARD FRAUD)
DANGER OF RELAPSE IF IN RECOVERY FROM ANOTHER ADDICTION
LOSS OF SPOUSE, KIDS, JOB, HOME
FREQUENT THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE

HOPELESS PHASE

POSSIBLE INCARCERATION

EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN
FINANCIAL RUIN
SUICIDAL IDEATION/SUICIDE ATTEMPT


Many escape gamblers identify codependency as a source of some of the underlying issues they must deal with in their recovery. Books by such authors as Melody Beatty or Pia Melody, as well as those from CoDA, are recommended. Books are available online through Hazelden or Amazon.com.

Please visit:
CoDependents Anonymous (CoDA) at www.coda.org

Reading Note: Although the pronoun "he" is used to describe the Action gambler and the Escape gambler is referred to as "she," it is NOT intended to imply that ALL Action gamblers are male nor that ALL Escape gamblers are female.