Introduction to Gambling Addiction
Many people like to have an occasional “flutter” by betting on a sporting event or making a wager. You may consider gambling to be nothing but a harmless diversion. However, gambling has the potential to become a an extremely problematic behaviour that can cause financial problems, put a strain on relationships, and even contribute to mental health issues. People dealing with a online casino & gambling addiction can even suffer from health problems brought on by stress, such as migraine and gastro-intestinal issues, as well as depression and anxiety. Severe problem gambling can sometimes lead to suicide.
Owing to the severe consequences, gambling addiction has become an important public health concern in many jurisdictions. Although you may think gambling has no severe consequences, you should be aware of the risks. If you learn to recognise the signs of problem gambling in yourself and others, you can take steps to stop the addiction from progressing any further, and prevent any severe complications — just as you would with a drug addiction.
Just because gambling is not physically addictive or illegal doesn’t mean it does not have serious consequences. Gambling addiction is also associated with a greater risk of mental illness or substance abuse. If you believe that you or someone you are close to may have a gambling problem, you can get help. Identifying the problem is the first step.
What are the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction?
There are signs and symptoms that you can use to determine if your gambling — or the gambling of a friend or family member — has gotten out of control. The signs of problem gambling include intense graving for gambling, feelings or guilt or remorse associated with gambling, obsession with casino gambling or gaming, insomnia, and loss of control over gambling.
A person with gambling addiction may feel compelled to “slip away” from work, family, or social events to gamble. The gambling will begin to have serious emotional and financial consequences. Gambling addicts often make repeated attempts to stop gambling or reduce their gambling, but often continue gambling despite the seriousness of the consequences.
In spite of serious and escalating debt, gambling addicts often continue to gamble, borrowing money off family and friends. depleting their savings, or even stealing. Gambling addicts believe that they can somehow recoup their losses, or that their “luck will turn”. When gambling addicts attempt to stop gambling, or when they are unable to gamble, they become irritable or depressed.
Gambling addicts are often embarrassed or secretive about their addiction, and they may go to great lengths to conceal their addiction from family or friends by lying about their whereabouts, concealing the fact that they are spending so much money by hiding financial statements or lying about where the money went. Remember, gambling addiction should not be seen as a financial problem. Despite the fact that it causes financial problems, it is an emotional/behavioural problem that causes severe financial difficulties.
How is Gambling Addiction Treated?
Anyone who gambles could potentially develop a gambling problem with severe consequences, especially if they gamble often. It usually takes gamblers a long time to realise that they have a problem, and like any addiction the addict will probably be in denial or attempt to rationalise their problems away.
If you believe that you may have a gambling problem, there are self-help tests available on the internet which you can use to assess the consequences of your gambling. Screening tools are important, as they can help you to decide whether you should seek the help of a professional. Self-help tests are also useful because they are less confronting than a face-to-face interview. If a questionnaire or online test indicates that you or someone you care about has a gambling problem, it is of vital importance that you seek help as soon as possible.
Once you seek help for your gambling addiction, your doctor can help you by referring you to a psychiatrist, counsellor, or psychologist. Every gambling addict is different, but treatment generally takes into account all spheres of the addict’s life which have been affected by the gambling: family, financial planning, counselling for psychological problems, therapy to help deal with impulse control and cravings, and even help dealing with legal problems. In many places, including Sweden, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, there are programs in place which allow online casino gamblers to ban or exclude themselves from a gambling establishment. This can help those with an gambling addiction to strengthen their resolve and refrain from gambling.
It is never too late to seek help for an addiction, and many addicts with feelings of worthlessness. Like any other addiction, problem gambling has severe and life-limiting consequences. However, seeking help of any sort is a step in the right direction. Many people move on from their addiction, with the help of counsellors, other recovering addicts, family, and friends, and move on to live happy and productive lives, free from the limits of their addiction. Accepting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery.