QuitGamble.com is based on the assumption that pain is the cause of addiction. It’s the escape from the pain we get addicted to. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling are just ways to escape the pain.
The theory that it’s the environment that causes the addiction is inspired by Professor Bruce Alexander’s famous Rat park experiments in the 1970s. He concluded that the cage the rats lived in determined whether or not the rat would get addicted to heroin, (Alexander 1979)[i]. When he made life meaningful and fun for the rats, no rats showed any signs of becoming addicted (despite the “common” knowledge that heroin is highly addictive).
We have also used studies of war veterans from Vietnam (Lee 1974). During the war 1000s of American soldiers were addicted to heroin, but when they got back to the US, only 5% of them became re-addicted within a year. The conclusion from these studies was; To Change Your Behavior, Change Your Environment.
Studies in Switzerland (Greenwald 2009) and Portugal[(Baumeister 2007) have shown the remarkable effect of creating meaning for, and stop shaming addicts.
The connection between addiction and escapism is well established in the literature. A search in Google Scholar shows over 12K articles.
“Escape theory refers to the tendency for people to engage in behaviors to avoid an unpleasant psychological reaction. Whereas the common use of the term escape suggests physically removing oneself from a physical location (such as escaping from prison), escape theory is used to describe behaviors that enable a person to flee from negative perceptions of the self. Escape from the self may help a person temporarily avoid a negative psychological reaction, but the behaviors that follow from a motivation to escape from the self are frequently undesirable. (Rosenberg 1999)
On QuitGamble.com, we’ve adopted the word pain for the escape theory’s “unpleasant psychological reaction”. Well-known figures like Dr Gabor Maté, Marshall Rosenberg Ph.D., and Eckhart Tolle have spoken about the connection between pain and addiction. One of the more famous quotes is: “Not why the addiction, but why the pain” //Gabor Maté.
- There is a connection between happiness and getting our needs met. For instance, when our social needs are met (feeling of belonging, family, friends) it’s likely we feel cheerful and happy.
- By contrast, there is also a connection between not getting our needs met and pain. [vi]If we don’t get our social needs met, we might feel lonely, bored or lost. We use the word pain as a collected for all these feelings.
The Happiness Test is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. We use the test to get an understanding of what causes a person pain. After the test, the user gets some recommend video programs to actively work on decreasing or even eliminating some sources of pain.
So far, we’ve created 14 video programs on QG. Each program is developed to target a source of pain. Our intention is to help and inspire the user to overcome things that cause them pain. We’ve developed programs to deal with loneliness, boredom, bad self-esteem, stress, and worries about health to name a few.
There are probably better video courses somewhere online. We don’t claim to be perfect. Our goal is encouraging, motivate and show the users what is possible.
QuitGamble.com is not a medical treatment for addiction, it’s a resource for self-development for people with gambling problems. On QG, the recommended program structure is:
- The Happiness Test to determine what cause a person pain.
- Join the community of ex-gamblers or people who wants to stop gambling. (Social network like Facebook)
- Work on their individual plan to ease the pain in their life. (For instance, beat loneliness by making new friends)
- Step by step when the pain decreases the urge to gamble disappear.
Back to Escape theory, we believe a HAPPY PERSON is more resistant to addiction because a happy person experiences less pain. When you feel safe. When you learn to live with past experiences and when you feel proud of who you are, then we believe the urge to gamble will disappear.
On QuitGamble.com, we have chosen to look for the problem behind an addiction rather than trying to treat the symptoms. Unlike Gambler’s Anonymous, we don’t want to create sober addicts. Our goal is to create happy and free people, people who can choose to gamble or drink if they want to. (Even if we don’t recommend it.)
We’ve used known models like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and theories like escape theory. We’ve combined these models and theories with common sense.
Some of the people we’ve found inspiration from have already been mentioned; here are a few more: Dale Carnegie, Johann Hari, Kelly McGonigal Ph.D.
[ii] (Lee 1974) Lee N. Robins, Darlene H. Davis, and David N. Nurco, “How Permanent Was Vietnam Drug Addiction?” American Journal of Public Health 64, no. 12 (suppl.) (1974), doi:10.2105/ajph.64.12_suppl.38.
Glenn Greenwald 2009: Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies
[v] (Baumeister 2007) Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, by Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs, 2007.
[vi(Rosenberg 1999) Marshall Rosenberg PhD talks a lot about the connection between pain and unmet needs in his book “Non-violent communication, a language of life”.