The Thrill of Riding Roller Coasters

First Question: Do you like to ride roller coasters?   

Second question: Did you notice if reading the first question made you smile? (Please remember your answer).

The first question is simple, the second one telling.  

I think it is safe to say that some people love to ride roller coasters and some would never-ever dare and obviously some are “somewhere in-between”.

But ultimately the fun-for-some-ages activity of roller coaster riding is popular enough to justify the existence of hundreds of such rides in hundreds of National amusement parks—some of which draw millions of annual visitors…

Next Question: WHY?

In one article I read on “Why we love roller coasters” an enthusiastic ticket-holder waiting on line explained:  “Where else in the world can you go to throw your hands in the air and scream at the top of your lungs while falling to the earth at high speeds?!”  More formally this and other authors agree:

“People ride roller coasters because there is a part of us that naturally derives intense pleasure from experiencing risk.

In fact (after reminding you of your answer to question #2), I would say that this natural thrill is so deeply ingrained in us it can make people smile with a rush of excitement–just by imagining it…  

And here I want to introduce my captain obvious observation, because it has an important connection to the issue of problem gambling. Even the most ardent roller-coaster fan wants the rides to be a safe experience, would want to be informed of any risks and OBVIOUSLY:  

No matter how much you love roller-coasters, everyone eventually wants to get off.

Now, the connection to problem gambling is layered but simple. Gamblers are drawn to gamble by the desire to experience a thrill that in many ways mirrors roller coasters rides. There is no alcohol or drug intoxicating the blood and brain, no external substance altering the state of mind and body. The thrill is derived from the behavior itself and is pleasurable enough to have become an accepted tradition and popular pastime.

We might agree that the roller coaster could be considered the ultimate symbol of humanity’s need or want to experience risk, even if that risk is greatly reduced by modern technology, seat cushions and liability insurance. But we also might agree that the roller coaster already has popular use as a symbol. It is a metaphor we hear in phrases like:

“…My life has been a roller-coaster since I started gambling again…”

When I think about the idea, I consider problem gambling like a ride you can’t get off. If we can imagine how sickening it would be to be held hostage on a roller-coaster, suffering the constant shifts between highs and lows, safety and risk, long after we have grown tired of riding—then we have a sense of the struggle being hinted it.

 Last Question: Do You Need Help?

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From the Program Manager:

I personally receive many calls and texts from gamblers as well as concerned family members and friends. They ask for options, solutions, information and practical help. What I do is listen, ask questions and use the answers to connect them to the resource that will best meet their need. This could be a 6-month course of treatment for an individual OR a single 45-minute assessment session for a whole family. It is often a referral for nearby locations and information and resources that can be extremely helpful.