7 Deadly Sins: A Former Gambling Addict's Perspective
Are You a Gambling Addict?
A gambling addiction or disorder is when an individual has lost the willpower to control their gambling behavior.
In the beginning stages of gambling disorder, the losses are low but gradually begin to climb until the person loses everything, including cars and/or their home.
You may not think of gambling as a deadly sin, but several religious groups and countries outlaw it because they perceive to be immoral and lead to impure behavior. It's often correlated with things like prostitution, which is also outlawed in numerous countries.
Some see gambling as the deadliest sin of them all because of how it weaves together elements of the other seven.
Discover how gambling disorder progresses into and through the stages of wrath, pride, greed, gluttony, lust, envy, and sloth.
Deadly Sin: Wrath
Wrath or anger is the most powerful emotion one can feel, but what is its role in addiction?
The answer is easy...
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, wrath shows itself as a side effect to the ingestion of these harmful products.
We've sadly seen or heard the stories of the drunken mother/father beating and berating their spouse or child.
Regarding gambling, wrath comes from every loss a person has on the slots, blackjack, the races, and more. Each loss feels like someone is stabbing them resulting in a painful and angry reaction.
Surprisingly wrath is the first stage of the disorder because you still have a strong reactionary response to the situation.
Gradually your approach becomes more subdued, and that's when you begin to lose control of yourself and your actions.
Deadly Sin: Pride
Each win is a strong hubris to the mind, and it's an early phase of gambling disorder.
Pride begins the unraveling process that's generated in three different psychological ways:
- Satisfaction of a small gain
- Inner monologue of something greater
- False sense of self-worth
Unlike being prideful due to positive accomplishments, here pride is misguided/fleeting and bolstered by an occasional win. For example, a few wins on the slot machine create a mental satisfaction despite the small gain.
That small gain will trigger an emotional response where the idea of winning something bigger stirs your internals.
Those internal monologues makes you feel stronger and accomplished but because the gain is fleeting, it creates a false sense of self-worth.
You feel worthy during a gambling surplus, but chances are that surplus will disintegrate before your eyes turning thoughts of self-worth and happiness into an endless chase.
This is the complete opposite of winning an Olympic gold medal because the success of earning a medal will always be there, and that accomplishment can't be taken away whereas monetary gain can.
Deadly Sin: Greed
Considering gambling is associated with money, it's appropriate for greed to play a massive role throughout the process
Why do people gamble in the first place?
They have an inordinate desire to gain a lot of cash, wealth, and luxury despite precedence that says it's unlikely for them to do so. The gambling and casino industry welcomes this impulsive behavior with open arms.
In today's economy, casino cities like Atlantic City, New Jersey, are struggling—so somebody has to take the fall. Mind you the struggles of gambling locales goes beyond the games themselves (location, violence, loss of income).
Greed along with gluttony represent the middle stages of gambling disorder. Once a person enters the greedy stage, they begin to forego logic and focus on the illogical odds.
Despite several losses, their mind lights up with every win due to strong psychological reaction that's present as is with most addictions.
A win is akin to a shot of vodka or an ingestion of a drug because of the intense euphoria generated.
The grandiose of fictional wealth is also thrown into the mix, which leads towards the next deadly sin and eventual downfall.
Deadly Sin: Gluttony
Once the charm and glamour of gambling fades, the person dives into the sad and uncomfortable state of the disorder.
Gluttony is another word for excess, and it's a very appropriate sin pertaining to addictive behaviors where excess means everything. A few drinks is okay, but once someone exceeds a certain amount, they slip into gluttony.
Eating extra every now and then is okay, but constant overindulgence indicates a significant problem.
When a gambler spends more than is allowed, they also fall victim to this deadly sin. This sin will gradually lead to their downfall because after a while the losses will pile up without any means of control.
As the individual falls deeper, they begin to care less and less about what they're losing and no longer care about their actions.
The only psychological stimulant to them is an occasional win, which is no longer supported by thoughts of greed.
Deadly Sin: Lust
One may wonder how lust and gambling go together, but there's a potent connection.
In fact I'd probably group lust and envy together because those sins have a lot in common. With gambling disorder, lust is not intimate in nature; it's a thirst for power.
They are lusting for something that has eluded them (money and wealth).
However this thirst reaches the point where the victim shows signs of common addictive symptoms including:
- Sneaky behavior regarding your gambling habits
- Desperation to recoup your losses
- Lying about your actions
- Stealing or borrowing money from others (also fraud)
- Betting higher amounts after each loss
The lust for power and control becomes so much that the person will throw all sense out the window and only think about regaining everything they've lost.
They spiral out of control because their actions create deeper losses that scream of desperation.
This could be seen as the point of no return because if the person suffering is not stopped or controlled, then they could lose everything and end up on the streets or in jail.
Deadly Sin: Envy
You might think envy would be one of the first sins you'd encounter throughout the disorder's progression, but it's actually one of the last ones you'll see.
When your losses pile up and you begin to dive into greater financial debt, you'll look towards other people who have had luck and success when they gambled.
Seeing other people's successes breeds an intense feeling of envy because you want what they have and will do what it takes to have it.
This is similar to lust where there's an obsession and a thirst, except this time it's directly related towards others.
You may even feel hatred towards people because they've been able to succeed where you failed.
This hatred only fuels addiction further, and the actions you partake in may include illegal activities. Crimes like fraud are common during the latter stages of the disorder with the worst cases leading to homelessness or prison.
The best example I could think of is one of the last scenes from Requiem for a Dream, where a few of the addicts end up in prison after they've been caught due to illegal activities.
Deadly Sin: Sloth
The last sin and the final stage in gambling disorder is sloth.
Sloth is what people would call laziness, but it's much more than that. To addicts it's the feeling of carelessness, tapping out emotionally, and the wasting away of their life.
Going back to the movie Requiem for a Dream, it's that scene where all of the addicts are lying in a fetal position after their hopes and dreams have been shattered. For a gambling addict the endings are often similar.
At this point the money is almost gone. They may have lost their car, home, or other amenities, and they don't care anymore. Some of those people end up on the streets or in jail while others look like gambling zombies.
None of the losses matter anymore, and even the occasional win fails to excite their emotional state.
It's an extremely sad and unpleasant chapter that could have been prevented. The rough ride through addiction is very clear and each sin serves as a pit stop.
However this isn't a scenic drive towards your ideal destination, this is a ride into a bottomless pit.
It must be stopped otherwise you'll go through each of the seven deadly sins and arrive at nothing but a wasted life.
Is Gambling the 8th Deadliest Sin?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
I spend a few hundred per week on gambling. Am I an impulsive gambler?
I guess that depends on how much income or net worth you have. If you're a millionaire, then a few hundred probably won't make much of a difference.
However, I'd consider an impulsive gambler as one who can't physically stop gambling no matter how hard they try.