Japan’s number of people who are addicted to technology, alcohol, and gambling has risen in the last few years. Almost 5% of Japanese adults are addicted to gambling. Susumu Higuchi, Japan’s expert on addiction said, “If something new becomes available, addiction will only rise.”
Japan has a large variety of pachinko parlors, which are colorful rooms that have games similar to pinball. The salons are loud, fun, and have lots of energy.
Gambling is an accepted part of everyday Japanese life. Pachinko parlors can be found in many places, there were over 12,000 parlors in 2011, and they’re only growing. Other acceptable ways to gamble are betting on speed boats, horses, and motorbikes.
As for internet addiction, around 4.21 million adults are addicted to the internet. This number has risen 50% in the last five years, according to the Mainichi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper.
The Mainichi also said more than a million people are addicted to alcohol, compared to roughly 830,000 people 10 years ago.
A Japanese woman named Reiko, 45 was addicted to pachinko 10 years ago, but is still in therapy to help keep her out of the salons.
She started out with “beginners luck” when her husband persuaded her to play pachinko. When her husband turned abusive, it took a long time for her to find the courage to leave. She eventually moved back to her unwelcoming parents, and she had no income besides government welfare.
In order to escape she played pachinko. She said, “When I won it was like being high; when I lost it was a stimulus. Win, lose, win, lose-it was thrilling.”
She would wait outside the game parlor for it to open, and stay until closing. “All I could think of was pachinko. I wanted to do it 25 hours a day- the thrill, the feeling of liberation. It was like being on drugs,” said Reiko.
She started running out of money, and decided she needed to stop when she lost 90,000 Yen, which is around $866 USD within a few hours.
She asked for help, and was referred to a counseling service for alcoholics, which was the closest help she could find for her addiction. She managed to stay away from pachinko for 8 months until she found a specialized counseling service for gambling addiction.
Reiko said, “the others in the group, their stories are so like mine. They got into drinking or gambling to escape their unhappiness. Now it’s drinking or gambling they have to escape.”
Reiko’s story is similar to millions of other people across the globe. If you are in need of help, checking into a drug and alcohol rehabiliation center is the best choice you can make.