Without doubt bridge can be very addictive. The path towards addiction is the one that leads straight to the local bridge club, especially if it is taken to escape dealing with the difficulties of life. However, escapes into the world of bridge fail.....because escapes into any addiction never work. In fact the indulgence in this pastime only worsens the situation by allowing the player to get separated more ftom his work, and more from his family. Then.....and this is the big mistake.....the bridge addict decides to flee further into his addiction rather than face the problems. This cycle of escape - failure - more escape is what causes the addiction to increase over time. The poor victim chooses to escalate escape even though he knows escape attempts always fail. Then, after a while, most addicts reach an abusive level of bridge involvement and don't increase it : they just simply maintain it.
Bridge addicts need help desperately and early intervention is the key to success. But how does one spot those players who allow bridge to take over and control their lives. Many see bridge as a sin, and in the words of W.H. Auden " all sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addition is damnation ". So since it is imperative to spot potential addicts before it is too late, I have drawn up a list of crucial tell-tale signs ....and recognisable symptoms . These are players who..........
- believe more than enough of the game is never too much
- open every conversation at the club with the words..." you hold "
- can't kick the habit, often turning out to the club no matter how severe the weather conditions are
- never turn down an offer for a game
- if they can't get a game will sit down and watch one
- despite the rising level of verbal abuse from partners come back for more
- regard death as more appealing option than the cancellation of a game
- allow winning to take priority over participation
- resort to secretiveness, lying and deceit on family and friends in order to " find more time " to play
- make repeated but unexplained outings to bridge venues, often with a sense of urgency
- develop severe sleeping problems, either sleeping less or at different times of the day
- if left on their own with a pack of cards, choose not to play patience but deal out 4 hands instead
- want to talk about bridge all the time
- enter longer and longer periods of self-condemnation over poor and mediocre performances
- on meeting people for the first time will immediately ask them if they play bridge or not
- suffer acute anxiety, distress or pain whenever they are starved of a game
- spend all of their time on the Internet visiting bridge-related sites
- experience extreme highs and lows during a session at the tables
The irony is of course that the more the game takes control over their lives, the more bridge addicts sink into self-denial. Indeed, even those who have recognised their weakness, and have been on courses offering alternative recreational pursuits.......they immediately relapse into playing bridge again. This is because the " buzz " they get from playing the game is one that they have to experience again...and again....and again.