If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and how to get help.
What is gambling addiction and problem gambling?
Gambling problems can affect anybody, regardless of occupation or background. Your gambling may progress from a pleasant, recreational pastime to a detrimental obsession that has devastating consequences. Whether you gamble on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker, or online slots at a casino, track club, or online site—or anywhere else—a gambling problem may have serious repercussions. You could even go as far as taking out huge loans or stealing money in order to gamble.
Pathological gambling, also known as gambling addiction, compulsive gaming, or gambling disorder, is an impulse-control condition. If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t stop yourself from betting no matter how badly you want to or how much it might hurt your family. You’ll gamble whether you’re up or down, flush or broke; and you’ll keep on betting regardless of the consequences—even if you know the chances are against you or if money is tight.
You can have a gambling addiction without being out of control. Problem gambling is any gaming activity that interferes with your routine. You have a gambling issue if you’re preoccupied with it, spend more time and money on it, chase losses, or gamble despite serious consequences in your life.
It’s possible that you have a gambling addiction or problem alongside other behavioral or emotional issues. Many problem gamblers also suffer from substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, sadness, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. In addition to these and any other underlying causes you’ll need to treat, you’ll also want to consider these factors.
It’s normal to feel like you can’t stopping gambling, but there are steps you can take to get your life back on track. You can repair the damage done to your relationships and finances and finally have control over your life again.
It’s crucial to know the difference between gambling myths and facts in order to better understand gambling problems:
Gambling Myths and Facts That You Should Know
Myth: To be a problem gambler, you must gamble every day.
Fact: Gambling causes other problems and consequently becomes a problem itself. A person who frequently gambles or only does so occasionally may develop gambling habits.
Myth: Problem gambling is not actually a problem if the gambler has enough money.
Fact: Gambling addiction can have a detrimental influence on one’s personal life, finances, and relationships. Gambling addiction may result in legal issues, relationship difficulties, job loss, mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and even suicide.
Myth: A gambling issue is simply a result of being weak-willed, irresponsible, or stupid.
Fact: Gambling issues affect everyone, from the low-IQ to the high-intelligence and from all walks of life. People who were previously responsible and strong-willed are as likely to get a gambling issue as anybody else.
Myth: Problem gamblers’ loved ones frequently drive them to gamble.
Fact: Avoiding responsibility is common among problem gamblers. Blaming others is one way to do this, as it allows them to avoid taking any ownership of their situation and the necessary steps to overcome it.
Myth: If a problem gambler accumulates an outstanding debt, you should assist them in resolving it.
Fact: Though it may seem like the right thing to do, bailing a gambler out of debt can actually make things worse. This is because quick fix solutions enable gambling problems to continue instead of addressing the root cause.
Gambling addiction signs and symptoms
Gambling addiction is frequently called a “hidden illness” because there are no physical indications or symptoms, in contrast to drug or alcohol addiction. People who have gambling problems ordinarily deny that the problem exists—even to themselves. Nevertheless, you may suffer from a gambling problem if:
Find yourself keeping your gambling habits a secret. You may gamble secretly or lie about how much you gamble, feeling that others won’t understand or that you’ll amaze them with a large win.
Unable to control gambling impulses. Can you stop gambling after you start, or do you feel like you have to keep going until all your money is gone?
Gamble even when you don’t have the money. You may gamble until you’ve spent your last dollar, at which point you can move on to money you don’t have—money for bills, credit cards, or children’s necessities. You may feel compelled to borrow, sell, or even steal things in order to obtain gambling money.
Have family and friends worried about you. Ignoring the problem will only fuel gambling addiction. If people close to you voice their concerns, take them seriously. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness – it shows strength. Many older gamblers feel they can’t rely on their adult children if they’ve blown through their inheritance by gambling, but it’s never too late to make positive changes in your life.
Self-help for gambling problems
Understand that you have a gambling addiction is the first step to overcoming it. This requires an immense amount of strength and bravery, especially if harmful consequences like relationship problems or money loss have resulted from your addiction. Do not give up hope, and do not try to go through this alone. Many others before you have gained control over their gambling habits and rebuilt their lives-you can too.
Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways. When you’re feeling down or bored, do you gamble? Or after a long day at work, when you’ve had an argument with your spouse? Gambling may be a way to help deal with unpleasant emotions or relieve boredom. But there are healthier and more effective ways of managing your moods and relieving boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Strengthen your support network. Remember, you don’t have to face addiction alone. Luckily, there are many ways to make friends without gambling, so even if your support system is limited, you can still find help. For example, try talking to colleagues at work or joining a sports team or book club outside of work. You could also consider enrolling in an education class or volunteering for a good cause.
Join a peer support group. Gamblers Anonymous, for example, is a 12-step recovery program based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Finding a sponsor, a former gambler who has stayed free from addiction and can offer you valuable guidance and support, is an important aspect of the program.
Seek help for underlying mood disorders. Gambling addiction can cause psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as worsen pre-existing conditions. It’s important to get help for both the gambling addiction and any other issues you may be struggling with.
How to stop gambling for good
For most recovering problem gamblers, the toughest phase is not quitting gambling, but rather maintaining their recovery by permanently avoiding any type of gambling. The ease of access to online casinos and bookmakers has made Gamblefar more accessible and placed temptation right at addicts’ fingertips with a simple smartphone notification or computer alert.
However, if you’re recovering from gambling addiction or battling problem gambling, it is feasible to recover if you remain accountable to others, avoid places that may tempt you to gamble again, and participate in healthy activities instead.
Making healthier choices
If you want to quit gambling, start by getting rid of anything that might make you gamble again. Then, fill that empty space with healthier activities. The four elements necessary for gambling are:
1. A decision to gamble
2. An urge to gamble
3. Thinking about the consequences of gambling
4. Doing something else immediately after gambling
You can work on getting rid of these things by:
1. Finding other activities to do instead of gambling
2. Asking your friends and family not to gamble around you or invite you to gamble
3. Letting go of the need to win back what you’ve lost by gambling more (chasing your losses)
4. Not borrowing money to gamble or paying back debts with money you’ve won gambling
5. Keeping track of how much time and money you spend on gambling
6. Telling someone about your gambling problem and asking them to help you stay accountable
7. Asking for help from a professional counselor or therapist specializing in treating gambling addiction
Making a change for the better
Quitting gambling is a process, and it may take some time before you’re able to stick to your goals. But even if you make a slip, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed—it just means you need to get back on track.
The most important thing is to keep trying, even if you can’t seem to quit for good right away. With time and effort, you can overcome gambling addiction and reclaim your life.
It’s never too late to make a change for the better. If you’re struggling with gambling addiction, know that there is help available. You can start by reaching out to a professional counselor or therapist specializing in treating gambling addiction. They can help you create a treatment plan and give you the tools and support you need to overcome your addiction. Don’t give up on yourself—you deserve to live a life free from gambling addiction.
10 tips on the way to beat a gamblers addiction
1. Get rid of your credit cards, let someone else be in charge of your money, have the bank make automatic payments for you, close online betting accounts, and keep only a limited amount of cash on you.
2. Make a plan to stop gambling, and stick to it.
3. Avoid places where you know there will be gambling opportunities, such as casinos or race tracks.
4. Find a support group or counselor to help you deal with your gambling addiction.
5. Tell your family and friends about your decision to stop gambling, and ask for their support.
6. Avoid using alcohol or drugs when you’re trying to quit gambling.
7. Keep busy with other activities to prevent gambling from taking over your life.
8. Recognize the warning signs of gambling addiction, such as spending more time and money on gambling than you can afford, or chasing losses by trying to win back money you’ve lost.
9. Don’t try to make up for your losses by gambling more—this will only lead to further losses.
10. Remember that it takes time and effort to recover from gambling addiction, but it is possible. With help and support, you can overcome this difficult disorder.
Gambling addiction is a serious problem that can have lasting effects on your life. If you think you might have a gambling problem, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you overcome your addiction and reclaim your life. With time and effort, you can overcome gambling addiction and live a healthy, happy life.