Manuel Jesus Gonzalez was born 31 years ago and Jose Maria Ortega 33 years ago, but their lives began again when they took the step of going to therapy to get out of the spiral Of Online Gambling Addiction, fostered by easy access to money through mobile devices.
Manuel began his rehabilitation in the Huelva Association of Gamblers in Rehabilitation (Aonujer) last February after 12 years of addiction to slot machines and internet poker.
The digital game, this patient has commented, is the “strongest leg” of pathological gambling since it can be played at any time, without having to leave the house and “without the embarrassment of entering a game room”.
“In the time it takes to go to the bank and withdraw the money, you may regret it, but not from your mobile,” adds Manuel, who considers that this is a danger for minors because “you only need to put an ID to obtain a microcredit.
MINORS, A VULNERABLE GROUP
José María shares an opinion with Manuel and explains that it is difficult to detect addiction in minors, since sometimes it occurs as a result of other “socially accepted” ones, such as obsession with mobile phones or online games.
In the case of the now group therapy monitor at the Granada Association, addiction to video games was the root of the problem that accompanied him for 13 years. From ‘World of Warcraft’ he moved on to investing in the stock market and later to internet sports betting.
It was when he reached 3,000 euros in debt that he decided to ask his family and partner for help. He managed to get away from his addiction for three months but the 2018 World Cup brought back the “demon” that he carried inside him.
He opened one of the sports betting accounts he had and thought “what every gambler does before relapsing”: “This is my last time”. After that move, Ortega even considered ending his life since his debt grew to exceed 8,000 euros “and he saw no other way out.”
THE SOLUTION STARTS WITH ASK FOR HELP
Like José María, many young people who are currently mired in addiction do not contemplate any other solution than to continue playing to recover the lost money because they do not know this type of associations, which offer group therapies and individual psychological support.
Therefore, the Andalusian Federation of Gamblers in Rehabilitation (Fajer), which encompasses the provincial associations, holds information sessions in institutes and schools, attended by patients and former patients as speakers.
In these talks, explained the president of Fajer, Paco Abad, it is evident that the arcades “let minors enter”. Students often share their experiences in these venues despite the fact that the law prohibits their entry.
When they start therapy, many patients ask that they not be allowed access to any establishment dedicated to gambling. This regulation, which must be complied with by all businesses, according to Abad, “is not complied with” and adds that the corresponding sanctions are not executed either.
GAMBLING DISEASE, DRUGS AND NOT LEISURE
Manuel Jesús, José María and Paco, who have suffered the yoke of addiction for years, agree that in order to stop the development that gambling addiction has been experiencing in recent years, gambling must be designated as a drug and not as another form of leisure .
From Fajer they insist on avoiding using the term “responsible gaming” since “the only responsible game is the one that is not done”, and encourage institutions to hold public information days to end a scourge “that is reducing neighborhoods” .