Gambling addiction is a widespread problem around the globe and in most Westernized countries.
Gambling addicts are often faced with personal relationships, financial difficulties, health problems, and general dissatisfaction.
The dark side of gambling is what can happen to people who are not careful with their behaviors, don’t set limits for themselves, and don’t manage their money well.
People who gamble excessively often need professional help to quit.
The consequences of addiction are complex on the addict’s life and people’s lives around them.
Gambling addicts are often faced with personal relationships, financial difficulties, health problems, and general dissatisfaction.
Please continue reading below for advice and several sorts of gambling addiction therapy to help people get their life back on track.
This article is intended for persons battling a gambling addiction that is interfering with their relationships and their ability to function in society.
What is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction, also known as pathological gambling, is an impulse control disorder and a type of mental illness.
It is characterized by the uncontrollable urge to gamble and a continued cycle of destructive behavior, leading to extreme consequences.
This addiction can be financially and psychologically debilitating for those who suffer from it.
Gambling in moderation is generally regarded as a socially acceptable activity.
Gambling addiction, on the other hand, is a very different matter.
If you don’t get help for your gambling problem, it can have severe consequences on your personal and professional relationships, finances, and other areas of your life.
Most people with gambling addictions are male, but women, on the other hand, are susceptible to this particular form of addiction as well.
Types of Gambling Addiction
- Compulsive-Pathological Gambling – Gamblers can no longer regulate their gambling tendencies since they have lost all control.
Pathological disorders are ascribed to those who fall under this category.
Drug and alcohol misuse are more likely to occur when gambling becomes a habit.
Gamblers will throw off their emotions, they’ll fill them with regret and guilt over their behaviors, and they’ll often base their sense of value on wins and defeats.
2. Relieving and Getting Away Gambling
This type of gambling where gamblers tend to escape feelings of worry, despair, boredom, rage, or loneliness in their personal or professional life.
Often this kind of gambler demonstrates more control than the compulsive gambler.
Gambling functions as an emotional respite from the underlying sensations of trauma that they cannot verbalize.
This sort of gambler tends to be highly vulnerable, and the unpleasant components of their social or work life may lead to ‘chasing,’ which is a sign and feature of compulsive gambling.
3. Binge Gambling
Binge gambling is the act of gambling in a way that is considered to be obsessive or compulsive.
It is a gambling pattern characterized by large bets, increased financial risks, and a lack of control.
The gambling is typically partaken in a short period, either a few minutes or a few hours, and then the gamblers return to a typical gambling pattern.
The bets made during a binge gambling session are unusually high for the gambler and may be high enough to make the gambler lose control of their finances.
They may make the unusual bets because a gambler believes a particular event will happen or because they believe there is a high probability that something will happen in their favor.
4. Problem Gambling
Problem gambling is an addiction where individuals cannot control their gambling habits.
It can lead to many consequences, such as financial difficulties, relationship problems, emotional damage, and criminal activity.
Problem gamblers can’t often stop thinking about gambling, even if they want to.
They cannot control the urge to gamble, even if they know it’s wrong.
They often start gambling for small amounts of money but then have no control over how much they’re betting.
What are the Signs & Symptoms of Gambling Disorder?
Gambling disorder is a chronic and progressive addiction.
A person with a gambling disorder cannot control their urge to gamble, and they may think about gambling frequently and have a strong desire to participate in the activity.
It becomes a disorder when it causes interpersonal problems, mental health problems, or financial difficulties for the gambler.
Signs and symptoms of gambling disorder include:
- Restlessness and irritability when trying to cut down on gambling
- Increased levels of tolerance to risk such as borrowing money from family members to gamble
- Obsessive thoughts about gambling
- They might continue gambling even when they have tried to stop
- Gamblers go to gambling venues or use a computer to bet more and more often.
- Difficulty controlling gambling impulses
- Hiding gambling from others
- Gambling to relieve a bad mood
- Feeling guilty after gambling
- Continuing to gamble despite negative consequences
- Having trouble meeting financial obligations due to gambling
There is a difference in the brains of gambling addicts and non-addicts.
The addiction in the brain causes a feeling of reward for a gambler.
A study from 2015 found that when gambling addicts were exposed to gambling, they showed increased activity in their frontal cortex when they won, but not when they lost.
Different hormones play a role in addiction, such as dopamine and cortisol, which assist with mood regulation, memory storage, and motivation.
What Causes Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is a common problem that many people are dealing with.
It can affect one’s social, mental, and physical wellbeing.
The reasons for the addiction might vary from person to person, but it is crucial to understand the factors that can cause this addiction to have a better understanding of the problem.
Let us discuss some of the common factors that influence gambling addiction and its distinct qualities.
Biological variables may play a role in determining why some people become addicted to gambling while others do not.
A combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as childhood hardship, may influence the development of these biological factors.
Biological distinctions between those with gambling issues and healthy comparison groups have been extensively studied, including brain anatomy and chemistry changes.
According to the overwhelming evidence, neurobiological elements play a significant role in gambling and hazardous gambling.
Some genes affect how much someone might gamble or if they would want to gamble at all.
The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a vital role in this category because it helps with feelings of reward and pleasure.
Genetic Inheritance – studies on families can help shed light on the extent to which problematic gambling is passed down through the generations.
Indeed, family members of problem gamblers are more likely to engage in harmful gambling.
However, there is a wide range in the percentage of people who experience this.
There is a great deal of variation in the definition of harmful gambling and the extent to which first, second, and third-degree relatives are included in the study.
Neurobiology – neurocognitive and biochemical markers of hazardous gambling have been studied in studies comparing problem gamblers and healthy volunteers.
Reward processing, risky decision-making, and inhibitory control are affected by this research.
Neuropsychological investigations have a lot of weight, while impulsivity and poor decision-making have been found in a vast amount of research.
A critical factor that often leads someone to gamble addiction is difficulty managing money, which can lead one’s financial situation could spiral out of control if not dealt with properly.
Many people from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be at a disadvantage because of their lack of exposure to higher education.
This can lead to discrimination and other issues that make it difficult for them to get the proper care and attention they need to succeed.
Gambling addiction is rooted in various elements, including an individual’s biology and the wider environment, and these factors are all interconnected.
Whether or not a person is more or less inclined to acquire hazardous gambling habits depends on various psychological factors.
Other psychiatric problems or addictions, such as gambling and self-medication to deal with destructive emotions, could exacerbate this tendency.
Personality and Temperaments – refer to individual variances in ideas, feelings, and actions.
Gambling addiction has been linked to several personality and temperament factors.
Impulsiveness, notably delayed discounting where immediate rewards are more valuable than those further away, is associated with a greater likelihood of engaging in gambling and reporting dangerous levels of gaming.
Self-perceptions – to form a sense of oneself, one must observe oneself concerning others.
Heavy gambling may be linked to low self-esteem in certain people. However, this has not been proven in all studies.
Individuals can display a wide range of personality traits while playing table games or in a casino, and the ultimate goal of gaining social status is at stake.
The opportunity to boost one’s self-esteem might be viewed as a result of this as a player; you must be able to perform at a high level and take chances and maintain your composure regardless of whether you win or lose.
Gambling addiction is more common in some countries than in others.
There are a lot of social factors that contribute to gambling addiction.
It’s largely down to the large amount of money that they can win, the thrill of pulling a lever or flipping a card, meeting friends and getting to socialize at the casino, and the lure of monetary rewards that get more tempting as time goes on.
Another possibility is that these actions are the result of external influences.
Gambling addiction can be triggered by stress or difficulties in one’s personal or professional life, although it is not always the cause of such compulsions.
You may also be in danger because of the social milieu in which you live.
Gambling addiction can be exacerbated by social isolation or the inability to leave the house.
Recognizing and Accepting the Problem of Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction can be a complex problem to identify and accept.
People who have a gambling addiction often have a skewed idea of what they need to do to control it.
Most people are still in denial, even if they know that they have a gambling addiction problem.
Recognizing the problem implies that you accept it.
If you believe you have a gambling issue, if you have even one of the signs mentioned above or symptoms, and your family or friends have previously alerted you to the problem, seek help!
Recognizing it is the first step in finding a solution.
Gambling addiction is a real problem, and it can be hard to identify.
The following are some traits for recognizing compulsive gambling:
- A compulsive gambler will often gamble with money he does not have.
- A compulsive gambler will often gamble to escape life’s problems or feelings of personal inadequacy.
- A compulsive gambler may also crave the excitement from gambling or may get a thrill from the risk involved in betting.
- Some people gamble because they want to get something back immediately rather than wait for it to happen in their lives.
- Some people get a feeling of euphoria when they win at gambling, and they will go on to do this repeatedly to recreate that feeling.
Below we provide some advice on recognizing the signs of gambling addiction and some basic self-help strategies.
- A trusted friend or a family can provide support.
- Avoid feeling isolated by engaging in things you enjoy, such as going out with friends.
- Give yourself more time to think before you gamble, and it may allow the urge to pass or weaken.
- Try to imagine what will happen after you gamble and how it would affect you emotionally.
- Stay away from gambling-related websites and friends who gamble.
- Avoid gambling when you’re feeling depressed or stressed, do other things instead.
- Avoid withdrawing money from your account unless necessary for your personal needs.
Effects of Gambling Addiction
Gambling is an addiction that can ruin the lives of many people.
It is a recreational activity for most people, but it can be a problem for some.
It is essential to know the risks associated with gambling addiction before playing any games of chance or betting on anything.
Debilitating repercussions of gambling addiction include mounting debt; the average debt a gambler owes is from $25,000 to $100,000, and in some instances, it is much higher still.
Gambling addicts frequently lose their jobs because they often miss work or neglect their responsibilities to bet.
Many people who have a problem with gambling turn to unlawful actions, such as theft or fraud, to pay for their addiction.
Many people are compelled to declare bankruptcy because they can’t pay their debts.
It’s possible to lose money quickly when gambling.
You might lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few months of relentless gambling.
Home equity lines are used by many people who have exhausted the credit on their credit cards and borrowed from anyone who will lend them money.
Not only can it lead to economic issues, but it also leads to other problems such as depression and suicidal thoughts and tendencies in some people.
Gambling addiction can also lead to serious health problems such as stress, stroke, and even heart attack.
Treatment and Support for Addicted Gamblers
There are many support groups and treatment options for addicted gamblers out there, but not all of them are created equal.
For medication treatment – it is possible that antidepressants and mood stabilizers medicines can help those who suffer from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or ADHD.
Antidepressants may have a positive impact on gambling addiction.
Narcotic antagonists, which are used to treat substance misuse, may also treat compulsive gambling.
There are three main types of support groups:
- Inpatient treatment centers provide a comprehensive and intense experience for those looking to clean.
This includes detoxification and rehabilitation programs that help individuals manage their addiction while discovering themselves.
It is one way a gambler can get completely free from their addiction, but it also has a very high cost.
2. Outpatient treatment centers provide less intense services than inpatient.
With outpatient, clients attend the center during the day and return to their homes at night, while with inpatient, clients stay at the center for an extended period.
But they’re still a proven method to help you overcome your addiction.
3. Gambling therapy is an option for those who want to continue gambling as long as they have someone to talk with about it.
The therapy is usually done through phone or online video chat sessions with therapists specializing in gambling addiction.
How Common is Gambling Addiction in the U.S.?
Gambling is a form of entertainment that has existed for centuries.
The first lottery was drawn in the 14th century, and the first recorded game of cards occurred in the 15th century.
Gambling addiction is seen as one of the most severe forms of addiction, with some people betting their lives away or even dying from it.
Some people use gambling to escape reality; some use it as a coping mechanism to avoid emotional pain; others gamble because they are bored.
Some will do it because they are angry or stressed out.
In the United States, one percent of the adult population suffers from a severe gambling addiction.
Gambling addiction is more prevalent among young adults than among the rest of the adults.
At the same time, according to a preliminary study, ethnic and racial minorities had more outstanding gambling issues than the overall adult population.
Research has shown that the U.S., where gambling is legal, often has higher rates of problem gamblers than other parts of the world, which has implications for addiction severity.
A lot of research has been conducted on the effects of gambling; some studies have shown that legalizing gambling lowers crime rates and gives people an outlet for stress.
Other studies have shown that legalizing gambling increases crime rates, addiction rates and encourages children to gamble.
Common Myths and Facts About Gambling Addiction
Myth: Gambling is a legitimate way to gain money.
Fact: Gambling is frequently used to lose money. Consider gambling a form of enjoyment that you must pay for, similar to going to the movies or having dinner with friends. That can help you keep gambling in perspective—and if you happen to win some money now and then, it’ll be a delightful treat rather than something you rely on.
MYTH: You have to bet every day to be a problem gambler.
FACT: A problem gambler may gamble frequently or infrequently. Gambling’s effect is more crucial than its frequency. Suppose a person’s gambling produces psychological, physiological, financial, emotional, marital, legal, or other troubles for the individual playing or the people around them. In that case, they have a gambling problem.
MYTH: The gambling issue is not truly a problem if the gambler can afford it.
FACT: Issues caused by excessive gaming are not usually financial. If a person’s gambling interferes with their ability to act in line with their values, then that person has a problem. Too much time spent on gambling equals less time spent with family, friends, and business acquaintances. Relationships can break down; they can lose friendships, and careers can suffer due to problem gambling.
Myth: The majority of teenagers do not gamble.
Fact: Approximately two out of every three teenagers gamble.
MYTH: Problem gamblers are irresponsible and uneducated people.
FACT: Many problem gamblers hold, or have held, positions of responsibility in their communities. Some are top executives and owners of their respective companies. A gambling issue can affect anyone, regardless of their social status.
MYTH: Problem gambling has little effect on young adults.
FACT: Surveys reveal that roughly 10 percent to 15 percent of American and Canadian children have had gambling-related difficulties and that 1 percent to 6 percent of these individuals may satisfy diagnostic criteria for compulsive gambling. Additionally, young adult gamblers have been demonstrated to be at a higher risk of developing health-threatening behaviors. Problems such as excessive drinking and drug use, compulsive gambling, binge eating, and depression, as well as suicidal thoughts, are all included. To summarize, gambling affects people of all ages.
Myth: If a person has a losing streak, they can usually win their money back.
Fact: This is not correct! Casinos continue to exist because most people do not win their money back. Consider how long a casino would be in operation if it paid out more money than it received? Most gamblers lose significantly more money than they win in these establishments.
Myth: Problem gambling is incurable.
Fact: With the correct help and the willingness to accept it, any person suffering from gambling addiction is capable of complete and long-term recovery.
How to Assist Someone Who Has a Gambling Addiction
If a loved one has a gambling issue, it’s time to sit down and talk about how your loved one’s gambling addiction impacts you and others.
Expect them to be angry or defensive about their situation, and don’t take it personally.
Problem gamblers may deny they have a problem, even if everyone else can see it.
Although it can be tough to address someone about a gambling problem, the best thing you can do is start by asking someone if the problem exists.
You might not get a straight answer, and you won’t know how someone will react.
If you approach someone non-confrontational, you might get some vital information.
When speaking with someone who has a gambling problem, keep in mind that you must first be candid with yourself if you want someone to be honest with you.
Notifying someone of your suspicions and concerns in a sympathetic and concerned manner is more likely to be effective than being deceitful, judgmental, or aggressive.
Discuss your feelings and observations, as these are less likely to spark an argument.
You can also talk about how reading about other people’s stories can help them recover.
Knowing that another person is going through the same thing as them can help them realize their problem and take urgent action to address it.
If a person falsely claims to have a problem, you can still express your concern for them and provide them with information on where to seek help.
Here are some phone numbers to call if you or a loved one needs assistance.
Worldwide Assistance for Gambling Addiction
The National Council on Problem Gambling maintains the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700).
There are 28 call centers in the network, and they serve all 50 states, Canada, and the U.S.
Virgin Islands with information and referrals.
There is always someone to turn to for assistance, and all information provided is kept strictly confidential.
Australia: 1800 858 858 or http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au
Belgium: 0800 35 777, https://gokhulp.be/
Alberta Alberta Health Services http://www.albertahealthservices.ca or call toll-free: 866-332-2322
British Columbia Partnership for Responsible Gambling www.bcresponsiblegambling.ca 888-795-6111
New Brunswick Health – Gambling http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/health/Gambling/What_is_problem_gambling.html call toll-free: 800-461-1234
Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline http://www.problemgamblinghelpline.ca/ or call toll-free: 888-230-3505
Quebec Gambling: Help and Referral http://www.jeu-aidereference.qc.ca or call toll-free: 800-461-0140
Denmark: Danish Gambling Authority https://spillemyndigheden.dk/behandling
France: Adictel Prevention Addiction: firstname.lastname@example.org 24/7 www.adictel.com/en/
Germany: Problem Gambling Hotline: 0800 0776611 www.gluecksspielsucht.de/
Hong Kong: Caritas A G Counselling Centre: Hotline (852) 1834 633 www.gamblercaritas.org.hk
Ireland: National Gambling Helpline: 1800 753 753 www.gambleaware.ie
Korea: Center for Gambling Problems https://www.kcgp.or.kr
Malta: Responsible Gambling Foundation http://rgf.org.mt/
Netherlands: National information number: 0900-2177721 www.agog.nl
New Zealand: 0800 654 655 or go online to http://www.gamblinghelpline.co.nz
Norway: 800 800 40 www.hjelpelinjen.no
Singapore: National Council on Problem Gambling http://www.ncpg.org.sg 800 6 66866
South Africa: National Responsible Gambling Problem Gambling Counselling Line: 0800 006 008 www.responsiblegambling.co.za/
Sweden: phone, chat, SMS and email service for the whole of Sweden www.stodlinjen.se/
Switzerland: Tel: 041 367 48 47 www.careplay.ch/
Last Tips When Attempting to Stop Your Addictive Behavior
There are many ways to stop addictive behavior.
The most common approach is gradually to wean oneself off the addictive substance or activity.
This method is often complicated and time-consuming, and it can leave a person feeling deprived and vulnerable.
Others find that cutting themselves off from their addiction all at once can be more effective.
However, this method may result in feelings of guilt and loss and intense cravings for the substance or activity.
Many people find that a combination of both approaches works best for them.
They gradually reduce their dependence on the addiction while also cutting themselves off from it entirely at specific points in time during the day or week.
One of the most effective ways to quit is implementing a set time and date for stopping.
Added motivation may also be helpful, such as joining a support group or rewarding yourself for quitting.