Anyone can suffer from gambling addiction. It goes from being something fun and blowing off some steam to an ugly obsession with harmful consequences.
Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder. Sufferers will gamble no matter if they’re flushed with cash or down to their last penny. They’ll continue to gamble if they can’t afford to lose.
Now, not everyone that gambles has an addiction, but nevertheless, it’s important to talk about it. Anyone whose life becomes disrupted due to their gambling habits has a form of a gambling problem. These include chasing losses or gambling with other people’s money.
It can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about, even with those closest to you. This article will show you what you can do to help yourself if you are struggling with a gambling problem, or how you can help someone in your life you suspect has a gambling addiction.
Let’s start with distinguishing the facts and facts about gambling problems first.
Myths & Facts
You only have a gambling problem if you gamble every day
Problem gamblers can gamble both frequently and infrequently. It’s a problem if it causes issues in their lives.
Gambling is not a problem if you can afford it
Problem gambling goes beyond financial issues. Spending too much time gambling can extend to personal relationships, jobs problems, mental health issues and more.
People only have gambling problems if they’re irresponsible or stupid
Problem gamblers can come in any form, including smart people and from all backgrounds. Even people with a history of being strong-willed can develop a gambling problem.
Problem gamblers are encouraged by their partners
Problem gamblers try and rationalise their behavior - and blaming their partners is one way they try and avoid taking responsibility for their actions. This is important to recognize as it’s going to be needed to help them overcome the overall issue.
You should help a problem gambler take care of their debt
It may seem a good idea at the time, but it can send the wrong message to the problem gambler - that they can continue doing the same actions and not understand the consequences of their actions.
Signs Of Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction is known as a “hidden illness”. This is because there are no clear, physical symptoms that someone is suffering from it. It’s also a problem that a gambler will be quick to deny to play down its extent - even to themselves.
So, with that being said, here are some signs of gambling addiction:
Hiding Your Gambling
You are either hiding the gambling activity itself or lying to others about how much you are gambling as you feel they won’t understand.
Finding Gambling Tough To Control
Can you walk away if you start to lose? Do you have to spend it all to increase your bet sizes to try and win your losses back?
Gambling With What You Can’t Afford To Lose
You spend all the money set aside for gambling but then start using money needed to pay for food, bills and essentials. You may even use your credit cards, borrow from others or even steal to get money for gambling.
Friends And Family Worry About You
Pay attention to what others are saying to you. It’s not embarrassing or a sign of weakness if you need to reach out and ask for help.
Self-help For Problem Gamblers
According to Lucian Marinescu of OnlineCasinoGems, the most important step to recovery is realizing you have a problem in the first place:
“Admitting to yourself you have a gambling problem takes a tremendous amount of courage, particularly if you’re lost money or even people in your life because of it. But you’re not alone. So many others have been in your exact position and have come out the other side for the better. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same.”
If you think you have a gambling problem, here are a few things you can do to help control it and prevent it from impacting your life ever again.
Strengthen Your Support Network
It’s hard to beat any addiction on your own. Reach out to close friends and family to help you through your journey. If you need extra help, there are other ways you can strengthen your support network, such as confiding in work colleagues you trust, join a sports team or gym to replace your time at the tables with exercise, sign up for a class, or even volunteer.
Join A Peer Support Group
Join a recovery program like Gambler Anonymous to aid your recovery. You’ll be given a sponsor who has been through your experience and can provide you with real advice and guidance to support you.
Seek Medical Help For Underlying Mood Disorders
There are lots of mental health issues caused by gambling addiction, ranging from stress and anxiety to suicidal thoughts and substance abuse when things get too deep. These problems can remain even when you stop gambling so address them as soon as you can.
Dealing With Cravings
It’s normal to feel the urge to gamble. However, as you make healthier choices and build and listen to your support network, it’ll get easier to overcome your cravings. Here are some things to do when these urges strike.
Call a friend, family member or your sponsor. Ask to meet them for a coffee, go for a run or attend a GA meeting.
Put It Off For Later
Tell yourself you’ll do it in 5 minutes, in half an hour, in an hour, in 5 hours. While you wait, the feeling to gamble could pass or weaken enough so you don’t give in.
Think About The Consequences
Visualize what you’ll feel when you’ve gambled all your money away. Think about what you could have done with that money instead, like go to a movie, buy a new video game, take a trip, etc.
Coping With Lapses
This is just as important to mention. If you can’t resist, don’t give up. It’s a tough addiction to overcome. Learn from your mistakes so you are better prepared when the feelings come again.