With the fever comes a sickness

For many parents, football gambling among teenage children is an illness in desperate need of a cure
Gambling can also lead to self-inflicted trauma and suicide once desperate attempts to find the money to pay off debts have failed.

Gambling on football competitions can be addictive. In psychiatric terminology, it is called pathological gambling.

Generally speaking, even though addicts realise it is wrong or detrimental to their daily life such as their finances, studies, health or social life, they still indulge in it.

It is on par with being addicted to drugs. Their mindset is focused on gambling. They find it impossible to think about anything else and all they yearn for is gambling. It is out of control and results in compulsive gambling.

This type of behaviour is compulsive and requires therapy. Those who are heavily addicted may require medication to reduce the compulsiveness or addiction to gambling. The next step is to involve the patient in other types of activities that do not involve gambling on football.

Examples are attending sports camps once or twice a week, organising activities on self-control or finding hobbies or family activities.

There are two factors that lead to teenagers becoming addicted to gambling. One, teenagers tend to lack self-control, unlike most adults who usually have a certain degree of self-control over their finances.

Two, teenagers are easily persuaded by advertising and tend to ape social trends. This is evident during major sports competitions such as the World Cup.

Preventing your children and loved ones from being pathological gamblers starts with education and warning children about the dangers of gambling.

‘‘Say No’’ to football gambling. A student joins a
campaign against football gambling during the
World Cup 2010, which began last week.

             1. The teenager must try to act responsibly by controlling himself and behaving properly.

           If he likes sports, he should study the sport of football competition. Understanding football in its entirety and the benefits from watching football matches can help.

           2. Study how to avoid being enticed by marketing and advertising ploys.

          3. Be able to distinguish good from bad, especially when it comes to illegal activities such as gambling.

          4. If someone entices you to gamble, be strong enough to say no. Do not become a victim.

          5. Be yourself as much as possible. Do not be enticed by money.

          6. Do not use the ''It's just gambling'' excuse because repetition will lead to compulsive and pathological gambling. It will eventually become addictive.

          7. If you happen to confront someone who is a pathological gambler, inform his parents or close rela tives. Try to pull him out of this type of behaviour.

          8. If you find yourself becoming a compulsive gambler, you should have the courage to admit your mistake and ask your loved ones for help.

It is crucial that prevention measures be implemented especially during World Cup season which lasts for one month. Family members, teachers and peers should take note of any behavioural changes in their children and students. Have their studies been affected or their grades dropped? Are they isolating themselves? Are they engaged in compulsive behaviour of some kind?

Teenagers don't have the defence mechanisms yet and tend to make decisions based on the wrong assumptions; they usually cannot say no and are curious. Close relatives and peers should help protect teenagers.

The press and media should also present the sport in a more creative way. Highlight the positive aspects of sports and how it could lead to fame, improve health, self-discipline and respect towards others instead of the gambling aspect.

For those who are addicted to gambling on football, action is needed before it is too late. Tell them they are behaving abnormally.

Meanwhile it is also important that their emotional needs are cared for. Find activities that will relieve their stress levels.

Exercise, a proper sleep schedule, and just the right amount of TV time can help.

A follow-up is required to see if they have emotional problems or not.

If you find that your child or relative does not gamble but still displays frustration, aggressive behaviour or depression, you should seek professional help.

Parents who think their children are involved with gambling based on behavioural changes such as frustration, aggressive emotions and depression, can seek help at www.manarom.com or call 02-725-9595.

BangkokPost, myfamily June 17-23, 2010   
By Dr Wasin Bamrungcheep is a psychiatristat Manarom Hospital