A damaging addiction

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.

— Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist

There are various types of behavioural addiction among men — and women too.

Behaviours can be as addicting as substances like alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.

When most people hear the word addiction, they might be thinking of dependence on a substance, such as drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

But alcohol and other commonly abused substances, including tobacco, aren’t the only things Malaysians abuse or think they’re addicted to.

In fact, just substitute the word “behaviour” for “substance,” and you open up the definition of addiction to all kinds of dependencies, some of which may surprise you.

Whether it’s sex, the Internet, or even shoplifting — I know a good number of female relatives with such tendency — the desire to experience a “high” becomes so strong that the so-called addict loses control and seeks the activity despite all negative consequences.

While experts don’t agree on whether they’re all true addictions, there are quite a number of habits that some of us are hooked on.

From my observation, and supported by researches, these habits include gambling, sex, Internet, video games, shopping (including shoplifting — from exclusive info), and addiction to certain food.

Smoking, drugs and alcohol are not mentioned here because they involve substance more than behaviour.

Nevertheless, I confine my article to gambling, for the simple reason that it is a costly addiction, even causing families and marriages to break up.

Most people may want to know why people are addicted to gambling of any form. My answer is simple — gamblers or punters are intent on winning and this is the basic cause of their addiction.

Winning or losing, they continue to bet with the hope of winning more. Some are lucky to win even to the tune of millions but not all are able to keep the winnings intact.

Many of these big winners continue to gamble and along the way, they lose what they have won and lose their own capital in the process with some becoming penniless at the end of the day.

One story shared among enthusiasts of Casino de Genting in the 90s — I spent three months at Institut Aminuddin Baki (IAB) in Sri Layang, just below the casino in 1993, attending a management course for school principals where Rosey Yunus (now Datuk and assistant minister) was in my class too — was about a winner of RM2mil jackpot in Genting who was lured into staying and playing some more.

The poor guy obliged and after a week lost all his winnings. It was a Melaka school principal who shared the story with me and confirmed by another course mate from a secondary school in Lumut, Perak.

Once, four of us went up there driven by the Melaka guy. Joining us was Dr S, a Sepang secondary school principal but he did not go inside the casino. I won quite handsomely and in the evening treated seven others (Rosey included) to “Satay Kajang” downtown.

There are various games at Casino de Genting, but my favourite is Russian Roulette where a bet of RM100 on a single number pays RM3,500.

Popular card games are Black Jack, Baccarat and Three Cards, These involve dealers while if one wants to play Caribbean Poker, one has to play against the computer. There is digital horse racing too.

Formerly, there were games called “Bandits” (with handles) but now these have become digitised. Wheel of Fortune enthusiasts and games of dices have respective counters to satisfy their cravings too.

Genting is the ultimate spot for gamblers but it is just a portion of their world. There are horse races in the Malaysian racing circle with on course races available in Penang, Ipoh, Selangor and Singapore on weekends while in Kuching, there are on course races at Mile 8 on selected weekends but offering off course bets for races held in the other race courses every Saturday and Sunday.

For the lottery punters in Sarawak, there are many counters statewide — and illegal lottery sales too. Others bent on cockfighting, there are a number of licensed fights on weekends not to mention the illegal sessions.

Online gamblers can choose their own favourite games too — riskily.

Some associations may have been licensed to play mahjong and card games at their premises. These provide recreation for enthusiasts. After all not every form of gaming is addictive.

Winning is sweet but there are some marriages and families broken due to addiction. For example, a friend (now deceased) who spent his weekends at the races in Padungan and later at Mile 8, even forgot the number of kids he had.

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