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Posted on: May 5, 2022 | Fire Toss

a picture of someone playing card games because of a gambling addiction

Signs Of Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is not a game — and it affects a lot more people than most people realize. An estimated two million Americans are addicted to gambling. Gambling addiction knows no bounds and impacts people from all walks of life, ages, background, races, and genders. In today’s world, gambling is more prevalent than ever with the rise of the internet and mobile devices, people can gamble from anywhere — add in a global pandemic that accelerated the growth of gambling, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster — both financially and personally.

 If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with gambling addiction, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll go over the signs, causes, and phases of gambling addiction and what you can do to get help. 

 

What is Gambling Addiction?

As the stages of gambling addict process and gambling starts to consume your thoughts and overtake your actions so much that it interferes with your work and social life, it’s considered a gambling addiction — an uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it’s taking on your life. 

Gambling is so addictive because of how it stimulates the brain’s reward system, similar to how drugs or alcohol do. In fact, gambling addiction is so prevalent that it has become the most common impulse control disorder around the globe.

 

What Are the Causes of Gambling Addiction?

There are several factors that contribute to developing a gambling addiction, including:

  • Retirement
  • Trauma
  • Job-related stress
  • Desperation to pay the bills or pay off debt
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Genetics
  • Other addictions
  • The use of certain medications
  • Sex
  • The desire to experience thrills
  • The social status associated with being a “high roller”
  • The gambling scene’s glamorous and entertaining atmosphere
  • Being influenced by a close friend or family member

What Are The Signs of Gambling Addiction?

Signs of gambling addiction vary but can include:

  • Missing family events
  • No longer doing things you used to enjoy
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns
  • Ignoring responsibilities such as hygiene, work, and family
  • You have conflicts over money with other people
  • An increase in alcohol and/or drug use
  • Continuing to gamble when you no longer can afford to
  • Lying to hide gambling 
  • Risking or losing close relationships or job or school opportunities due to gambling.

How Gambling Addiction Affects the Family

The saddest part about gambling is how far the devastating consequences can reach, including:

  • Financial problems — When gambling spirals out of control, repeated losses start taking a tremendous toll on the family’s finances, which often leads to home foreclosures, bankruptcy, and amassing enormous amounts of debt. When the financial problems escalate, they can even get so severe that the family becomes homeless
  • Breakdown in family relationships — In the throws of gambling addiction, people’s number one focus is fulfilling the urge to gamble. This means everything else gets ignored, causing children and spouses to start feeling neglected and wondering what they did to cause it.
  • Emotional devastation — The longer the family is weighed down by debt accumulation, lack of trust in the gambler, and feeling neglected, the bigger the psychological toll is. Anxiety, guilt, shame, even depression, and behavioral problems start to pop up.
  • Violence — As tensions escalate, the arguments may start to lead to emotional outbursts that end in violence. The gambler may even start abusing their family if they feel attacked or judged for their gambling.
  • Children —Research shows that early gambling exposure plays a significant role in whether children and teens start gambling themselves. When kids constantly hear a parent(s) brag about “big wins,” the children may become increasingly curious and interested in starting to earn winnings themselves. Many adults in treatment for gambling addiction say they started at an early age, often because of familial influence.

 

Treatment For Gambling Addiction

The good news is, gambling addiction is treatable in the following ways:

  • Therapy: Behavioral therapy can help people overcome their gambling addiction through systematic exposure to gambling and learning skills to reduce the urges. Unhealthy, irrational, and negative beliefs and finding healthy, positive beliefs to replace them with is the focus of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), another therapy effective at treating gambling addiction.
  • Medications: Antidepressants and mood stabilizers are two types of medication that help people suffering from compulsive gambling by treating the underlying causes.
  • Support groups: There is support in the community, and many people going through similar experiences to help them learn new ways to fight gambling urges. Oftentimes, these support groups lead to lifelong friendships and support systems that are always “just a phone call away” when the gambler starts feeling triggered.

  

How Do I Stop Gambling Addiction?

  1. Accept that you have a problem.
  2. Seek to understand the problem, what’s causing it, and what can be done about the root causes and the active addiction.
  3. Join a support group where you’ll receive professional counseling, learn coping skills, and meet other people going through exactly what you’re going through.
  4. Find alternatives to gambling. Physical activity, meditation, and other new hobbies are excellent, healthy alternatives to gambling that will provide you with the same adrenaline rush without the hole in your pocket.
  5. Think about the consequences and how gambling addiction affects the family. From financial ruin to devastating your personal relationships, gambling addiction has consequences. Jot down all of the consequences gambling has already caused in your life and what it could take next.
  6. Seek professional help

 

Highland Springs Can Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction,  Highland Springs is here to help. We offer a wide range of outpatient addiction treatment recovery options that are catered to your specific needs. Recovery is our goal, and we will see to it that you will grow and show positive change.

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