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Addiction: The Destroyer

Addiction is a strong word. It means a physical and mental dependence on something to such an extent that it starts interfering with our daily lives. Whenever we think of addiction, we think of something explosive such as binge drinking, or snorting lines of cocaine till one dies. However, what one never thinks could be an addiction is gambling. It does not leave traces like a bad odor after drinking or white, powdery deposits around your nostrils after snorting. All you need to do is put on a happy face and no one will ever be the wiser about your problems. However, gambling is equally as bad as all the other forms of substance abuse. It gives a kind of kick, a dopamine high born from the idea of being rewarded for nothing, and that is all that keeps one going on and on and on!

A story that is immediately memorable about the curses of addiction is the story of Mary. It all started innocently with Mary. She was a big and busy executive, always stressed out from work, and needed an exit from it all. That is when she started going up on slot machines, to distress herself, to have some fun. And before she realized it, her fun days escalated into an inescapable grip of addiction. Before she knew it, she was spending 3 to 5 days a week in the casinos, trying her luck and losing all her money. She was uncontrollable- she was simply spending all her money on casino machines, not knowing exactly what she is spending.

Day in and day out she would go to the casino, sit in front of the same slot machine, and while her time and money were away. When she would run out of money, Mary would simply ask for advances on her credit card till her cards got maxed out. These advances too would go out into the slot machines. And soon enough, after a few months, she didn’t have any money to make her regular, daily payments and none at all to pay off all the elaborate advances that she had taken.

Having no money turned out to be a good time for Mary. Since she did not have any money on her, she could not waste any money on gambling. This blow to her finances lasted almost a year, at least 6 to 9 whole months. Away from gambling, and knowing that she was broke, she focused on her work and got back to her feet again. But, addiction is a curse- it never leaves one fully. The moment she got back on her feet again through her hard work, she wanted to get back to the slot machines "to have some fun". And the moment she got back to the slot machines, she spiraled into her old habits like any adduct would do once they relapse.

She had herself proclaimed in a later occasion that she had stopped temporarily for the sole reason that she did not have any money on her. And once she did, she just wanted to see “what would happen”. And that made all the difference. Once she was back at the slots, it took her only 4 days to lose everything that she had built over 9 months. In just that short time she had already overdrawn on her bank account and the bank had closed her out.

However, this time she was more prepared than the last time. This time she had cleverly devised a way to ensure that she could keep funding herself to maintain her habit. This time, she started to "borrow" some funds from the company. Yes, Mary was a successful businesswoman. In fact, she was the president and the CEO of the company and thus knew very well what goes where. With her knowledge and expertise, she knew that she could keep borrowing small amounts from here and there and pay it back when her turn comes. But soon enough, her crumbling addiction had once again interrupted her daily life. Soon, she had "borrowed" a lot more than she could return. She had "borrowed" enough that it fell under the company's radar. And that is how Mary, though she was given a second chance and managed to get back to her feet, lost it all in a game of twist and turn.

The story of Mary is sad and depressing and highlights the vile nature of gambling. The idea of gaining something without having to do anything is appealing to everybody out there. Gambling is fuelled by that idea and supported by the copious amounts of dopamine that the brain releases. The "feel-good hormone" gives us a false sense of satisfaction and that is when things start spiraling. So, it is okay to gamble occasionally, and while doing so, one should learn to keep their walls as up as possible!

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