Should gambling addiction be categorised as an illness?

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This is always going to be an incredibly difficult debate, and it’s certainly one without a clear answer. The controversy with this subject comes from the fundamental fact that in order to get addicted to gambling, one must choose to gamble in the first place – gambling is completely recreational, therefore most people would not have any sympathy for those who were unlucky enough to find themselves addicted to it.

To those people, I pose a simple question – would you tell an alcoholic they had chosen to get addicted to alcohol? Would you tell a smoker they had chosen to get addicted to smoking? Would you tell a drug addict they had chosen to get addicted to drugs? These questions all centre around a similar theme, being that the instigator across all of those areas is ultimately an object or substance that the victim has chosen to establish contact with at some point prior to becoming addicted – the real question to ask, and rather controversially so, is – would you tell a cancer victim their illness was self inflicted?

In the same vein as the above question, it’s also worth noting that it is unlikely that any body would accuse a victim of the AIDS virus of inflicting the illness upon themselves – but believe it or not, with modern scientific advancement, it’s becoming more and more apparent that cancer especially is actually more directly related to our conscious life choices (mainly what we ingest) than we ever believed or knew. The “Russian roulette” mentality when deciphering why people are affected by cancer is fast falling out of favour as we are finding trends between the processed food types and toxins people take in on a daily basis and the manifestation of cancer cells within the body. AIDS too is closely linked with the ingestion of toxins and, of course, with certain life choices made in other cases.

Now, my question to you, regardless of how the aforementioned illnesses manifest themselves within a victims body, is – would you accuse somebody with cancer of making the wrong life choices if they had contracted the disease through the consumption of processed food, or would you simply make an allowance because cancer was the disease in question being dealt with? Most people would make allowances, because cancer has almost become socially “acceptable” – it would be seen as being in terribly bad taste to try and put the onus on somebody who had contracted the disease.

But when we look into the back ground surrounding these more socially “acceptable” illnesses, how are the circumstances surrounding the contraction of the disease in any way different to those surrounding the contraction of an addiction to any kind of substance or action?

In principle, it simply isn’t.

Regardless of the method of contraction, the end result is the same – the person is ill. Whether that be due to cancer, any other life threatening illness, or the addiction to something that financially cripples them and as a result causes damage of any imaginable degree to the person when it takes hold in the worst possible way. This is why support and understanding are so vital, because on closer inspection, and whether people like to admit it or not – illness is resoundingly similar across the board by its very nature. That’s why we should all think strongly before pulling back our trigger finger and judging those who would be improved vastly through the receipt of emotional support.

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