Addiction – When Gambling Becomes a Problem

While most people enjoy casino gambling, sports betting, lottery and bingo playing for the fun and excitement it provides, others may experience gambling as an addictive and distractive habit. Statistics show that while 85 percent of the adult population in the US enjoys some type of gambling every year, between 2 and 3 percent of will develop a gambling problem and 1 percent of them are diagnosed as pathological gamblers.

Where can you draw the line between harmless gambling to problem gambling? How can you tell if you or your friend are compulsive gamblers? Here you can find answers to these questions and other questions regarding problem gambling and gambling addiction.

What is the Meaning of Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling or compulsive gambling is defined as an uncontrollable urge to gamble despite the destructive effect of gambling on the gamblers life and despite feelings of guilt and remorse. Problem gambling tends to have a negative effect on the gamblers financial state, relationships and daily life. Severe cases of problem gambling can be defined as pathological gambling.

Am I a Compulsive Gambler?

1) Do you gamble until your last penny runs out?

2) Do you gamble to win back your former losses or debts?

3) Did you ever had to borrow money to continue gamble?

4) Did your gambling habit ever made you lie to your friends or family?

5) Did you ever skip work or other obligation to gamble?

6) Do you tend to gamble to forget about your personal problems or to celebrate happy occasions?

7) Does gambling have a negative affect on your daily life or relationships?

If you have answered yes on at least one of the questions listed above, then you have a problem.

Can Anyone Become a Compulsive Gambler?

Theoretically, yes. Any gambler can develop gambling problem regardless to the type of gambling he is occupied with, the amount of money and time he is spending on gambling. Researches show that slot machines that can be found in bars and convenient stores are the most addictive type of gambling activity, while lottery draws and bingo games are located on the other end of the scale. Gambling addiction is an emotional problem; its symptoms, causes and treatments are similar to any other form of addiction.

How Can I treat Gambling Addiction?

1) Group Therapy:

Gamblers Anonymous offers a 12 step self help program similar to the one offered to alcohol addicts in Alcoholics Anonymous. Group therapy also offers gambling addicts advice and support from professional counselors and other gambling addicts in different phases of their recovery process. Gambler Anonymous centers are available in more than 1,200 locations statewide.

2) Individual Therapy:

Cognitive or behavior therapy can help gambling addicts to identify their unaware thinking and acting patterns, which led them to gamble compulsively, and to replace them with controllable and healthier ways of thinking.

3) Psychiatric Medication:

It has recently been proven that antidepressant medications from the family of SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be affective in treatment of gambling addicts.

Online Games: A Bittersweet Treat

They say the human body can go without food for 3 weeks, 3 days without water, typically 7-8 minutes without air. Did you notice I just listed the 3 essentials primarily needed to sustain human beings or life for that matter? The question is why all of a sudden I decided to go all science or encyclopedia on you.

What if I was to tell you while conveniently ignoring our evolution from monkeys, we have evolved to a level where these three things are no longer the only things that we need to sustain life. Knowingly unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, slowly and steadily it has crawled its way as one of the fundamentals for survival. I am of course talking about mobile phones and its minions (tablets, smartwatches and stuff).

If we all be honest with ourselves, I guess 90% people will agree with me when I say that we cannot live without our mobile phones for longer than a minute. Call it a force of habit, being enslaved to them or whatever but that is the sad truth that none of us want to face. With social networking playing a pivotal role in the lives of people of all age groups, people seem as if they are infused with a need to become “cool” and as a result, the need for mobile phones has risen drastically. That vibration and sound of receiving a message have become more imperative than eating, sleeping, and all day-to-day activities.

Phantom notification syndrome (the tendency of someone to believe they got a notification when they have actually not) is not just an observation about the youth but for almost all people with a “smartphone” these days. It is as if we have been programmed to check up on our phone every minute or two for no suggestive reason. And if it is not to check up on our zero messages it is either to take a selfie, or just to console ourselves we are looking fine, or to play games. In a very rare instance, it is a task outside these 3 categories.

And if we examine objectively, after messaging/texting/tweeting/Instagramming, the next favorite thing of people is to tire out their fingers playing games.

After WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram this is the thing in common in all devices. So simple and yet so addictive. The craze for the online game is such that at a point even I started playing it and I don’t remember how my following month passed. I mean there cannot be a single person who does not daily get flooded with games requests daily. It’s hard to put to words as to what makes the mobile game this addictive it’s dope sound effects, its ever-increasing difficulty as you progress, its simple interface, or what, is a mystery yet to be solved. But there is one thing laid down in concrete – it’s definitely going to stay a favorite among people for a long time to come.

Repercussions of Gambling

Ever played poker? Roulette perhaps? Have you ever wagered money when playing? Then, in fact, you have gambled. Gambling is when you wage money for something even when you do not know what the outcome will be. However, gambling seems to be a part of quite a number of people’s lives. It has become a habit, worse, even a psychological problem.

For someone who gambles for the first time, it may not be hard to get out of it. Once you win something by doing it, you may want to try it the second time. When you get the hang of gambling, you will probably want to do it again. The next thing you know, you become unconsciously addicted to it. Even when you wish to stop, there is nothing you can do.

Ludomania is known as the impulse or itch to gamble even when you know its’ corresponding implications. This however is just a minor difficulty. Severe cases actually nod into the direction of a mental disorder. It is called pathological gambling. One is considered to be a pathological gambler if one is preoccupied with gambling all the time and that is mainly all he thinks about. He tends to imagine when he will be playing again in the future or thinks about the game he played yesterday.

When someone tries to recover from gambling problems and still resorts to gambling, then it is also considered pathological gambling. It is also when someone considers gambling as an escape from reality – a sort of a makeshift world when he can be himself at least for that moment to break away from his realities.

One of the most common symptoms is the need to gamble more. When you lose a game, thus losing money, you have the urge to get it back and start gambling again. It is a never ending difficulty to those who are hooked on gambling.

Consequently, one now has a hard time controlling his gambling habit. This loss of control will eventually lead to deceit to his family and friends.

When gambling becomes so much of a habit, one may consider doing illegal acts. The need to gamble more when you lose money could lead to stealing money to recover your losses. Sometimes, one would resort to fraud. Forgery is also common when someone uses someone else’s signature especially in writing checks for him to continue gambling.

Risking his relationship just for gambling is also a symptom. When he continues to gamble even when it compromises his time away from his wife or kids is a serious problem. This could lead to divorce. This also could involve missing work as a result of being in a game instead of at work.

Another symptom is when he relies so much on his family or friends for money. When he is losing money because of gambling, he could resort to borrowing money from his family, friends, even a financial institution that could result in bankruptcy.

Gambling will become serious if not given proper attention. When this becomes a habit, it becomes a hindrance to your relationships with others, especially with your family. When this becomes severe, you should go to counseling to counteract your gambling problems. Have someone to talk to. Your family can be of help because they are your first line of defense against gambling. But most importantly, discipline should begin with you. There is nobody who can help but you alone. Remember that too much gambling can make your life miserable, so avoid excess gambling.