Internet kills people as easy as drugs do

The man from the southern boomtown of Guangzhou, aged about 30, died on Saturday after being rushed to the hospital from the Internet cafe, local authorities were quoted by the Beijing News as saying.

"Police have ruled out the possibility of suicide," the newspaper said, adding that exhaustion was the most likely cause of death. It did not say what game he was playing.

Pravda.Ru has decided to ask Mark Daglish, addiction expert and research fellow in psycho-pharmacology at the University of Queensland, to find out more about internet addiction.

Pravda.Ru: What are the main signs of Internet addiction?

Mark Daglish: The signs of addiction to most things are the same:

- Increased importance of the thing above all else (e.g. work/family)
- Internal conflict / loss of control

- Tolerance - need more to get the same effect
- Withdrawal - dysphoric state when unable to get the thing
- Craving or strong desire for the thing
- Rapid re-instatement of the behaviour after a period of abstinence

Pravda.Ru: Are there any ways to get rid of such an addiction?

Mark Daglish: Cognitive behavioural therapy is likely to be the best option.

Pravda.Ru: Are there any kinds of so called ‘modern’ addictions?

Mark Daglish: There are many reports of gambling addiction - the modern part is the
slot machines or poker machines.

Previously Pravda.Ru has published an interview with Clyde W. Barrow, who is a gambling expert and Ph.D., Director, Center for Policy Analysis, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

The full text of the interview you can find here.

The following is what Clyde Barrow says about gambling addiction. Do you consider gambling to be a serious mental illness?

Clyde Barrow: Gambling is not a mental illness, but research by psychologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists, and others document that it can become a problem or pathology. The distinction is that pathologies are considered a “behavioral” problem, rather than an “illness.” However, it has been found that many problem gamblers have underlying problems such as depression, which makes problem gambling the effect, rather than the cause of a mental illness. In the United States, it is estimated that about 2.7% of the population will develop a gambling problem at some point in their lives and about 42% of that problem (1.1%) is due to casinos, as opposed to other forms of gambling (e.g., lotteries, sports betting, horse and dog racing). Could you name several main reasons why people gamble?

Clyde Barrow: The main reason that people visit casinos is for entertainment. Most people are responsible gamblers who limit and regulate their spending by setting aside a fixed “stake” that they can afford to lose. Most casino gamblers expect to spend that is, lose money to the casino. When developed as resort destinations, casinos are viewed as a night out with friends, where they not only gamble, but have dinner, dance, and visit other entertainments venues, such as a caberet or music event. Some casinos now have health and beauty spas and golf courses. It is not just about gambling, but about having fun. In the United States, we estimate that about 10% of the people who visit casinos do not gamble, but visit them for the other amenities.

There are, of course, many other reasons that people gamble: to win money or to escape from personal problems, but these are losing propositions. What are the main tricks used by casinos to drag money out of their clients?

Clyde Barrow: Casinos do not really need to drag money out of their clients. The bottom line is that the odds favor the house in every form of gambling. Over the long run, casino gamblers as a whole will loose more money than they win, which is why casinos are so profitable. However, two of the main marketing devices are “frequent gambler programs,” which offer “compensation points” to free spending customers that can be cashed in for “free” hotel rooms, meals, and retail purchases at the casino. Well-run casinos also tend to focus on luring so-called “whales,” which are wealthy patrons who are more likely to spend large sums of money at a casino.

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

Author`s name Alex Naumov