Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling
Gambling, when done right and in moderation, can be an entertaining and fun activity. However, when done excessively, it can lead to gambling addiction. When you have a gambling problem, it can affect many things in your life, including relationships and finances.
If you want to understand what gambling addiction is, how to get help and treatment, and what gambling abuse signs are, continue reading our guide below.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction can also be referred to as compulsive, pathological gambling, or a gambling disorder. This is an impulse control disorder where you can’t control the urge to gamble no matter its consequences. You will even go as far as accumulating debt to feed the need to gamble.
However, you can also have a gambling problem without losing total control. A gambling problem can mean that you have always been preoccupied with gambling and spending your time and money. You will chase your losses and still not consider the after-effects of your behavior.
Often gambling addiction is associated with other mood or behavior disorders. What’s more, people who have a gambling problem will suffer from stress, substance abuse, anxiety, and other kinds of behaviors. So, when you need help with your gambling addiction problems, you will also have to address these underlying causes.
Signs of Gambling Addiction
Since gambling addiction is a hidden illness, it is not simple to physically notice any symptoms. It can happen that the person who has the problem will deny or try to minimize the problem from others and themselves. However, there are behaviors that you can pick up to know when you or someone else has a gambling problem.
Here are some of the symptoms and signs:
- Keeping your gambling activities, a secret – If you choose to keep your gambling a secret or even how much you gamble can be seen as a symptom. You will do this because you will feel like no one will understand.
- You can’t control your gambling – when you feel the need to keep gambling until you have no money to spend can be a problem. When you gamble, you should be able to walk always when you have had enough. If you are not able to do so, it is a problem.
- Avoiding work and important commitments to gamble – if you reach a point where you see no need to do other things in your life like going to work, you have a problem gambling. When you see that gambling is the only important thing, it is time to get help.
- Using money to pay for bills and expenses to gambling – when your gambling has become excessive, you will feel the need to use your money for bills thinking that you will replace it when you win.
- Selling assets and belongings – you will want to sell your belongings to get money to feed your gambling habit. You will disregard whether what you are selling is important or not.
- Steal money – since you would have used up all your money, you will think that stealing money is an option as long as you get money to continue gambling.
Effects of Gambling Problems
As we mentioned, having gambling can affect your life and the people around you. However, it can go beyond that where you can end up having financial problems as a result. This is because you will max your credit cards, ask your friends and family for money, or even get loans or credit to gamble.
This will cause a strain in your relationships with friends and family. What’s more, you can lose your job, house, car, and other possessions due to gambling.
Gambling Addiction Treatment
Fortunately, there is help out there to help you or someone you know with their gambling problem. There are therapists you can talk to and can help with cognitive behavior therapy. This kind of therapy helps with ways to prevent relapsing, ways to change habits, and finding out the cause of the addiction.
Other gambling addiction help comes in support groups and programs such as the 12-step program such as Gamblers Anonymous. They are available for support and help with addiction and how to overcome it.
Even though you have varied options to get help, you can also change some of your behaviors to improve your life from addiction. You can do the following:
- Find healthier ways to deal with unpleasant feelings
- Reach out to family and friends for support
- Get help for triggering disorders
- Find alternative activities to replace gambling
Gambling Addiction Hotline
There are available hotlines that you can contact when you want to talk to someone about your gambling problem or when you need help. You can get assistance any time of the day because the hotlines are available 24/7, 365 days a year. They are confidential and anonymous. You can contact any of the below:
- SAMHSA – 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889
- National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) – 1-800-522-4700. Also offers text services at 800-522-4700