Problem gambling isn’t just a phase that will pass without effort. Contrary to what some assume, it is not just a bad day or week (after which you say it will never happen again), and it is not a way out of your routine or financial difficulties. It is a disease in a form of an addiction, one as bad as alcohol or drugs. Left untreated, it may lead to very dangerous situations. Problem gambling is a serious medical issue defined as an impulse control disorder, which results in not being able to manage the desire to gamble even if the person knows it might hurt their relationships, job or financial status.
When someone strays onto the wrong side of the line between fun and addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. Below, we will discuss some important points that should be considered by someone who has such problems. According to gambling addiction statistics, the chances of ending up on this wrong path are more than 20 times higher if you habitually drink alcohol in excess, use other drug substances, or suffer from depression, stress or some kind of mental disorder. Studies also show that the age group with the highest rates of such issues are young adults (from 20 to 30 years old).
Articles that discuss the results of authoritative research on harmful gambling behavior reveal unpleasant facts. They show that crime rates tend to be much higher among people with the disorder.
As responsible professionals in the gaming industry, we make it our mission to share necessary information that will make people aware of the dangers, and to reveal methods to avoid or take the first steps in curing this illness.
Signs of Gambling Addiction
To get a sense of whether you or a loved one has a problem of this nature, it is recommended that you look out for warning signs and red flags that should trigger the alarm:
- Playing staking games secretly; hiding and lying about the time spent on this activity. Another danger sign is not being honest about how much money is burned through on such entertainment.
- Not being able to stop even when your bank account is almost drained, resulting in falling into debt. Having a strong desire to start playing right away without any “stop” instinct (compulsive gambling).
- Choosing to spend money on betting amusements in preference to the needs of you and your family; borrowing or even stealing valuables and cash just to have the chance to go on playing (pathological gambling).
- Strictly denying having a problem, even if everyone around you says that there is something to worry about.
Are You Ready to Talk and Share Your Story?
You can always get information or support from specialists in gambling addiction. You can also talk to other people who have been affected by problem gambling.
We created a short list of support services to help you determine if you should learn more about the path to recovery.
- Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
- The Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund
- Gambling Help Online
- Ohio for Responsible Gambling
Outside of the obvious signs, which indicate that there is trouble with excessive betting habits, there’s more. Such a disorder causes harmful changes on a psychological level, changes which have emotional symptoms like depression, unstable mood states, aggression, anxiety and even thoughts of committing suicide. These symptoms can all become part of binge playing behavior, in which the person lives only for a hope of winning, but actually, loses every aspect of normal life.
Physical Need for Gambling
In addition to the emotional symptoms, the problem can go even further, causing physical sufferings to the addicted person when there is no opportunity to start a staking session. This need results in hand shaking and scratching, headaches, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate. Once the craving to gamble is satisfied, everything may go back to normal for a certain amount of time. We can see that this reaction is quite similar to the reaction of people who are addicted to drugs, which shows how dangerous this condition can be.
We’ve created a short test, that can help in determining whether you have a problem, and help you start taking some positive steps to fix it.
Indicate whether you have done any of the following within the past 12 months:
- 1. Started increasing the size of your bets to maximize your excitement and the thrill of the game.
- 2. Felt bad and uncomfortable when considering quitting this type of entertainment.
- 3. Took many unsuccessful steps to give up risking money in online amusements.
- 4. Were obsessed with thoughts of playing a betting game again, overthinking past gaming sessions, or planning how to get cash for the next session.
- 5. Started a new game every time you lost money just to beat the machine or at least have an even score.
- 6. Gambled after experiencing stress, depression or a feeling of loneliness.
- 7. Hid your true spending on wagering or lied about being involved in such activities.
- 8. Lost an important opportunity, relationship, job, scholarship or something very significant to you because of the impulse to play.
- 9. Fell into significant debt because of betting.
- 10. Stolen or borrowed money or sold valued items to get some funds to keep on staking.
If you answered “yes” more than 4 times, then you are a victim of binge gambling.
How to Overcome Addiction
It’s reassuring to know that in most cases you are capable of helping yourself, but only when you start to recognize the problem, which is the first step to self-rehabilitation. After that, you must learn how to deal with unpleasant emotions like stress, depression and bad moods without risking money in games. Also, it is important to find some kind of support from family members, friends or colleagues. Avoid casino websites and activities that involve playing for money to keep yourself out of the danger zone. The best way to begin normal life is replacing bad habits with healthier activities like sports, meditation, reading or creating art.
If the situation can’t be controlled by you and your family, then it’s time to seek professional help from a psychologist. He or she may offer you the chance to attend group therapy, where patients with the same troubles share their experience. There are also organizations that offer more serious treatment in a hospital to isolate you from destructive environments and give you time to reevaluate, rethink and reestablish your priorities, giving you the perspective you need to overcome this problem.
How to Help a Gambler in the Family
There are some rules and tips to keep in mind if you have an addicted person in the family. It is recommended that you not ignore the troubled family member, but share your love and support in their struggle to overcome addiction.
You may also need to change how money is shared and who is in charge of financial matters in order to prevent the addicted person from continuing to waste cash on games. Ask your family and close friends to help you with your relative by speaking to them about the toll their gambling is taking to ensure they accept the help.
Keeping Gambling Fun
For those who haven’t developed a problem, the way to avoid being a victim of excessive betting is to always be careful and wise while playing. Thus having fun will not cause any bad consequences. Always remember that it’s just a game, one which is not worth your health, family, job or, most importantly, your life. Enjoying it safely and thoughtfully will bring more joy than any impulsive action.