Gambling is a perfectly acceptable form of adult entertainment. As long as someone has discretionary money that they can easily afford to lose, there is nothing wrong with them visiting retail casinos or going online to bet on sports or play online casino games of chance. It’s fine for folks to take advantage of free spins no deposit casino bonuses to enhance the gambling experience. However, caution is warranted when someone has the desire to gamble a bit more than they should.
The disease of gambling addiction is also called “compulsive gambling” and “gambling disorder.” Yes, it very much falls into the same psychiatric/medical category as other addictions like drug addiction, sex addiction, and alcohol addiction.
Gambling disorder is best characterized by the individual’s uncontrollable urge to keep gambling with no regard for the collateral damage their gambling activities are creating in their life. At its worst, this addiction has the capacity to destroy lives.
If by chance you suspect that you or someone you love is suffering from gambling addiction, knowing now might be useful. With that in mind, here are the key signs that someone is header towards gambling addiction.
Signs of Gambling Addiction
For this writing, it seems prudent to divide the signs of gambling addiction into two categories: Physical and behavioral. Let’s take a look.
Physical signs of gambling addiction
Unlike drug and alcohol addiction, there is very little about gambling addiction that DIRECTLY affects the human body. However, gambling addiction does have the capacity to cause physical signs such as:
- Lack of sleep due to stress and long gambling sessions
- Unkempt personal appearance – little time is invested in cleaning and grooming
- Irritability brought on by mounting losses or trying to cut back on gambling activities
Behavioral signs of gambling addiction
This is where gambling addiction levels its biggest toll. As a person’s gambling addiction grows deeper, it has the capacity to cause all kinds of behavioral issues such as:
- All daily activities seem to focus on finding time or money for gambling
- Growing problems at work or school due to absences or lack of focus
- Financial problems that could lead to homelessness, bankruptcy, or even suicide
- Relationship problems with co-workers, family, and friends
- Escalation in the amount of money needed for gambling
- Always gambling longer than planned
- Always gambling until the last dollar has been lost (chasing losses)
- Unfulfilled promises to stop gambling
- Legal issue – robbery, divorce, bankruptcy
- Constant lying to cover up the extent of gambling activities
- Using gambling to hide feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
As you can see, any one of these behaviors would be alarming. If an individual, you or someone you love, is exhibiting any combination of these behaviors, gambling addiction is probably the right diagnosis.
Treating Gambling Addiction
Compulsive gambling is a solitary endeavor. While recreational gamblers seem to prefer the company of other recreational gamblers, compulsive gamblers prefer to go it alone.
As devastating as gambling addiction can be, it is absolutely treatable. Getting treatment requires two things. First, someone, hopefully the compulsive gambler, has to identify there is a problem. Second, the compulsive gambler has to be willing to admit defeat and want to seek help.
The really good news is help is available in many forms. Here are some of the treatment options that seem to be most helpful:
- Intense therapy with a licensed therapist or psychologist
- Involvement in a 12-Step program – Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
- A stint in a gambling rehab
- Signing up for self-exclusion programs that would prevent gambling access
Note: There are not a lot of rehab facilities that offer services for compulsive gamblers. However, drug and alcohol rehab facilities can be successfully substituted as long as the rehab’s counselors know they are dealing with gambling addiction issues.
It’s very rare that a compulsive gambler will have but the one disorder. Most gambling addicts are suffering from either psychological issues or other addictions in combination with their gambling disorder. The presence of more than one disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders.
This matters because people suffering from co-occurring require a special form of treatment called Dual Diagnosis Treatment. Dual Diagnosis Treatment requires the treatment of all disorders simultaneously to prevent untreated disorders from interfering with the results of treated disorders.
At a time in history when online gambling has become very popular throughout the world, awareness of problem gambling issues has to improve. As you can see, ignoring the issue could destroy lives. If you are gambling, be responsible!