India has several gambling addicts, and many of them are very young. For instance, 26-year-old Gurpreet Singh used to bet on almost anything he could and lost a lot of money. The recent IPL satta scandal terrified him and he finally decided to seek the help of a psychiatrist.
Psychiatrists say that gambling addiction is now a serious problem in India, especially among the youth. They also say that several gambling addicts approach them for help. Anshu Gupta, who is a consultant in SPS Apollo Hospital, has helped 10 gambling addicts this year. Anshu says that gambling addicts understand that they are not doing the right thing, but seek professional help only after they have lost everything, fallen deep into depression, and developed suicidal tendencies.
In India, gambling addicts place sattas on fooball, cricket, horse races, and casino games. Before Sikkim and Goa legalized casino gaming, they used to visit casinos in Nepal and now they blow up huge sums of money on Goa casinos.
Experts say that gambling addiction can be treated by a mixture of medication and behavior therapy. Dr. Ranjive Mahajan, who heads the psychiatry department in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), says that he uses behavior therapy and medicines such as SSRIs, mood elevators, and others to treat gambling addicts. Family support is essential in the de-addiction process, he opines.
Dr. Mahajan also reveals that gambling addiction is worse than drug addiction because gambling addicts ruin not only themselves, but also their families. In many cases, it leads to divorces, he adds.
Human rights activists Shashi Khullar has also confirmed that gambling addiction leads to divorce in many cases. According to Khullar, people belonging to the lower middle class tend to get addicted to lotteries, while those from the richer sections of society get addicted to sports and casino satta.
As gambling will inevitably continue within India, it is now up to the Central Government to set up more gambling awareness campaigns and access to help. Similiar to the US and the UK with the GamblersAnonymous and Gamcare. Currently India has no such support groups.