This quote might resonate with you or someone you care about. Gaming machine addiction, also known as an addiction to VLTs, or slot machines, is different from any other gambling addiction. Unfortunately, this is something that very few treatment programs recognize. Gisele Jubinville’s book Dismissed: A woman’s ingenuity saved her from addiction and exposed a government cover-up, reveals that a basic understanding of how gambling machines works is one of the most crucial elements missing from treatment programs. Regular VLT and slot players will experience common and normal experiences such as losing control over time and money, excessive and continuous play, inability to make informed, rational, and controlled decisions, and losing touch with reality.

Let’s look at the statement and see how it impacts your addiction. Self-loathing is one of the most common responses to gaming addiction. Normal healthy internal dialogue shifts from compassion and understanding to anger and impatience to judgment. You wonder, “Why is my inner dialogue so poor?” “What has happened to me?” “I am such a pathetic mess. How will I ever get my money back? “If anyone finds out, they will hate me for sure.” “Why am I still losing money on these machines?” I don’t have the willpower. What a failure! These thoughts linger in your head, affecting your mood and lowering your self-esteem. They become your reality pretty quickly. Your addiction is your fault. You believe that your addiction is your fault, and you should be punished for it.

What if that isn’t true? But what if you’re not the only one responsible? You may not be aware of the factors that lead to addiction. Manufacturers of VLTs and slots machines spend millions every year to increase the time it takes to play. To make it more difficult for regular players to be responsible, psychologists, behavioral scientists, and doctors are employed to improve the machine’s program. It’s possible not to stop playing with the machines if you don’t want it that way. They want you to put your money in their machines, and they’ve done everything possible to accomplish this goal. The machine was designed to draw you in and keep your attention. This manipulation is something that most players don’t even know about.

New players are drawn to the possibility of winning a huge jackpot. This is why many new players initially find VLTs or slot machines appealing. Unfortunately, entertainment becomes entrapment over time. Your thinking is affected by playing with the machines regularly. Your rational, controlled mind is replaced by an irrational mindset that believes it will make money playing the machines. This is how the machine’s program wants you to think. The machine has set up a system of reinforcement that will help you expect, hope for, and desire the winning jackpot. It makes you believe it is only a matter of time and that another $20 should get you there. You become a slave to the machines when you play often.

Yes, you can take control of your addiction. However, you can’t heal unless you take responsibility for your addiction. Consider that you may be more of a victim than an addict. This will change your inner dialogue. Instead of beating yourself up about losing control, think: “I am doing exactly the things that the machines have programmed me to.” My mind is affected when I am in front of a slot machine or VLT. The machine’s program is designed to keep me on the machine as long as possible. Regular players of these machines will not experience the normal reaction of losing control over their money and time.

Your internal dialogue will change as well as your actions. You will find that the urge to play with the machines diminishes the more you learn about how they work. Instead of trying unsuccessfully to stop yourself from playing with the machines, you naturally want them to be away. Knowledge is freedom. It is an easy and natural path to recovery. I encourage you to get started. This could save your life.

Imagine, if you will, VLT and slot machines as elaborate mazes. Think of their creators as cunning architects who prey on human frailty. The journey into this labyrinth appears harmless at first. The promise of quick riches? How enticing. With their vibrant lights and delightful sounds, the machines are like sirens luring you into their trap. However, an insidious change occurs as you delve deeper into the game. Its algorithm, the brainchild of experts, meticulously ramps up your engagement.

This complex web exploits your psychological vulnerabilities. A prominent one is the machines’ use of a variable ratio schedule of reinforcement. It’s a concept borrowed from animal behavior studies. This principle revolves around doling out rewards unpredictably and at various intervals, thereby instilling behavior that’s remarkably stubborn to discard. In less fancy words, the intermittent tips, the tantalizing uncertainty of a win, and the persistent dream of hitting the jackpot cement players’ hooks in the game.

Furthermore, these machines are frequently tailored to dispense near-miss outcomes, brewing a deceptive illusion of control and sparking an irresistible urge to continue playing. You might catch yourself thinking, “I was inches away. Perhaps next round?” This sentiment burrows deeper hooks into the game’s deceptive fabric. The fundamental paradox here is that while you feel like you’re calling the shots, it’s the game manipulating you, capitalizing on your cognitive biases, and puppeteering your decisions.

A potential lifeline for recovery is dispelling the illusion of control these machines generate. Recognize that the odds are skewed against you from the start. The machines are fine-tuned to turn a profit at your cost. Arm yourself with this knowledge—a potent weapon for breaking free. Recognize this is a duel with a machine, both in a literal and metaphorical sense. Alter your mindset, embrace the harsh reality, and reclaim the reins of your life. Remember, recovery isn’t a one-time event; it’s a winding journey. Each stride towards knowledge and self-compassion distances you further from these predatory machines’ grasp.

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