Gambling is an activity that offers excitement and fun. People have engaged in gambling activities for thousands of years due to this fact. Players can stake their cash on a variety of outcomes and stand the opportunity to win extra cash. However, gambling has transcended beyond a game of fun and excitement for many people and instead become a necessity. This is because of the chance it offers to win huge rewards, which has gotten many people addicted to the dice and cards on the casino tables. Over time, they cannot control their gambling, and this game that is meant to be a fun activity becomes an obsession that poses a danger to them and those around them. This is the moment that evident signs of gambling addiction start to show.
Gambling addiction is an impulse control disorder that is also referred to as Ludomania. It is a situation when an individual keeps on gambling even when it is having a negative impact on them and those in their immediate environment. Everyone showcases different gambling addiction symptoms, depending on the kind of gambling activity they engage in. For individuals who gamble compulsively, gambling first begins as an activity for entertainment, but when they win huge cash, gambling can transform into a huge problem. Sometimes, compulsive gamblers don’t have to land a huge win before they get hooked, and it becomes a problem. Many people believe that all gambling addicts are unable to control their urge to gamble, but this is not entirely true. There are gamblers that can make a decision regarding when to gamble and when not to. However, if the activity hinders their everyday activity, then it has developed into gambling addiction.
When a person has no control over their gambling urge or desire, they are categorised as compulsive gamblers. This kind of gambling which is also referred to as pathological gambling, makes a person surpass his or her limit. Compulsive gamblers find gambling irresistible, and they will continue to gamble, not minding the negative impacts their gambling is having on them, their finances, their loved ones, and their everyday lives. Even though they know they don’t have the resources to handle any further gambling activity, they don’t care and will still make massive wagers playing their favourite games.
The binge gambler shares some similarities with a compulsive gambler. The only difference is that they still have some form of control and can go for a period without displaying any signs of gambling addiction. There are binge gamblers that can go weeks and even months without gambling. But compulsive gambling behaviour can show up without warning anytime these individuals begin to beg. When it happens, neither they nor those around them can stop them from gambling without some major effort. Sometimes, it is almost impossible.
When a person continues to gamble even after losing consistently or can’t seem to stop thinking about placing bets, they can be categorised as problem gamblers. Even though these individuals may try to resist the urge or desire to gamble, they tend to ignore their responsibilities and still start betting. Eventually, their gambling activities cause a disruption to their everyday lives and negatively affect them and their loved ones.
The physical symptoms and signs of gambling are not prominent and can be extremely difficult to spot. This is unlike alcohol or drug addiction which comes with glaring symptoms. The implication of these hidden signs is that a person can continue gambling till they get into financial problems or even lose their jobs without them or those around them knowing it. This case is worse in binge and problem gamblers because the signs are almost impossible to spot.
But if a person showcases or experiences some of the symptoms covered below, then they are dealing with a gambling addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) states that an individual must display not less than 4 of the symptoms below within a duration of 12 months to be categorised as a gambling addict. They include:
Even though these symptoms can help you determine whether you have a gambling addiction, a proper medical diagnosis is still required as it is more accurate. If you have experienced no less than four of the above symptoms, you will need to get the help of a mental health expert like a psychiatrist.
These experts are well versed and better suited in determining if you are dealing with a gambling addiction or showing symptoms of an underlying medical condition. Tons of individuals dealing with a gambling addiction usually deal with other disorders like substance use disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, and ADHD.
Nobody fully understands what causes a person to develop a gambling addiction. However, there are numerous factors that can contribute to it, including huge first wins, mental health problems, and an urge for money.
One of the core reasons why people suffer from a gambling addiction, particularly problem gambling, is the manner the brain reacts to gambling. According to scientific research, the brain produces a neurological response when a person wins while gambling. This response is like what happens to cocaine addicts when they consume a dose of the drug. In addition to this, compulsive gambling has been associated with deficiencies in the feel-good chemical known as serotonin alongside norepinephrine which is a stress hormone. There are also other biological causes that have been found to be present in the genes. The implication of this is that there are a group of people that are more genetically inclined to develop a gambling addiction disorder.
The way a person perceives gambling may also have an influence on if he or she has a likelihood of developing a gambling problem. Loss-chasing, which is common in gambling, is a factor that can eventually trigger a gambling addiction. As the gambler keeps hoping to win the next bet, they continue to deny the impact of their gambling habits in their lives and go further into this vicious cycle. These individuals hold a high level of hope even as they continue to experience losses.
What’s more, the likelihood and excitement of winning numerous times possible on a slot machine can make a person susceptible to a gambling problem. This is usually common among fast-paced gamblers who enjoy fast-paced games or slot machines as opposed to the lottery. Furthermore, there are people who land their first win gambling and become attached or hooked. This is particularly the case when their first win is huge and helps in recouping all the cash they lost betting previously. These individuals have a higher possibility of experiencing gambling addiction when they constantly place bets in the belief that they will land another huge win. There are instances when some of these individuals place double the initial stake so they can land double the wins. This strategy hardly does any good since gambling is a game of chance where your next win is not guaranteed.
Compulsive gambling could be triggered by the desperate urge for money, job loss, and stress. Even though gambling addiction is not a genetic problem, an older member of the family can pass it down to the younger ones in the family. This could be through direct teaching or influence. In addition, social elements like having friends who frequently bet or proximity to gambling options could also trigger gambling addiction.
Medications may not cause a gambling addiction directly, but there are specific ones that could cause this issue. For example, antipsychotic medications and dopamine agonists have been associated with a higher likelihood of gambling addiction.
Many people dealing with gambling addiction fail to notice the issue until it has done irreversible damage. This is when they have already lost their jobs, entered huge financial debts, lost their relationships, or gotten into problems with the law when they engage in criminal activities to get the finance to fund their gambling.
The good news is that there are gambling addiction signs that pop up before it gets so bad, which means you can easily determine if you are dealing with a gambling addiction and need a check-up.
If you realise that you have any of the symptoms of gambling addiction we covered above, the first thing you should do is accept and recognise that you have an issue. Many people who are dealing with gambling addiction continue to deny the fact that they have a problem even when the signs are so evident. If you believe you are starting to get addicted to gambling on online betting platforms or those around you have begun to show concern about the influence of your gambling habits, then it is important that you seek help.
There are instances where gamblers may try to justify the problems around their gambling addiction to make it feel like they have not lost control or to hide the fundamental issue. Even though this is something compulsive gamblers can’t do, problem gamblers can do this without issues. This may seem like a good idea, but the downside is that it extends the issue and makes it hard to stop when the time comes.
The first step toward dealing with a gambling addiction is recognizing and accepting that you have an issue. The next step is to work towards freeing yourself from addiction. Thankfully, there are numerous self-help strategies that you could use to assist you in overcoming your gambling addiction and free yourself for the remainder of your life. Some of these strategies are listed below.
It is not easy to quit gambling; however, it is possible. There are numerous types of treatment options available for the problem and compulsive gamblers alike. No treatment has been stated as the official option for gambling addiction. However, there are methods that can be of help:
Psychotherapy has been known to effectively treat gambling issues and can even help deal with relapses. The expertise of a professional therapist or psychiatrist during counselling could help in improving gambling behaviours and habits. This strategy would be more beneficial if the gambler has another psychiatric issue that brings about his/her urge to gamble. With the help of a professional, treating both conditions is possible.
There are specific medications that could help in minimizing the constant urge to head to an online betting platform or visit a land-based casino to play slots. Medications like anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants have shown promise in helping deal with gambling addiction.
Many of the official records of individuals dealing with gambling addiction stem from gamblers self-reporting themselves. Thus, it is not easy to determine the number of people experiencing this issue.
In Canada, the number of individuals dealing with a gambling addiction makes up 3% of the population. More than 1 million Canadians are dealing with a gambling problem. In the United States, problem gambling falls between 2-3% of the entire population. While gambling addiction is less and makes up for 1% of the whole population.
In Australia, the numbers are no better since the Problem Gambling Severity Index standard use estimates that around 1.1 million everyday gamblers have acted in ways that caused or put them in danger of gambling-related issues.
However, the numbers are a bit higher in the UK. A survey carried out by YouGov showed that about 2.7% of UK adults, which is around 1.4 million individuals, have issues with gambling. But this figure is not official and is just estimated as the UK Gambling Commission places the official estimates at 0.7%.
From the figures above, men seem to have the highest numbers. This means that men have a higher likelihood of experiencing gambling problems or becoming gambling addicts as opposed to women. And the worse part is that even though there are numerous treatments for gambling addiction, many men don’t find treatment or join organizations that can help them. Sometimes, a few are lucky enough to correct their gambling habits by changing their behaviour, lifestyle, or through support from family and friends. However, many of them continue to groom this habit and lose a major part of their lives to problem gambling and its effects without getting the help they need.
Gambling addiction causes numerous short- and long-term negative impacts on the lives of individuals. Some of these are easy to point out, while others may need one to look closely to spot them.
Individuals dealing with gambling addiction tend to end up with serious financial problems. In most cases, they can amass debts and sometimes gamble away their cars, homes, and other valuables. For people with compulsive gambling, their finances are not the only ones on the line, but that of their family, friends, and acquaintances. Sometimes they could wager funds from work, investors, etc., and this could cause legal problems and even time in jail.
Mental and psychological problems tend to stem from betting continuously. This happens because this problem causes a disruption to the way the person thinks and lives. The effect could be an increase in social issues and strained relationships. Gambling addiction could also trigger other mental issues like suicide, anxiety, and depression.
Compulsive gamblers tend to suffer, but they don’t suffer alone and tend to drag their families into it too. Research states that children with problem gambling parents may experience child abuse and other types of domestic violence. In addition, they have a higher likelihood of developing other forms of addiction and mental health issues as they grow older.
Since it is possible for the signs of gambling addiction to be hidden, particularly in the case of problem gamblers, it may not be easy for relatives to observe that someone close to them is dealing with a gambling addiction until it has caused severe damage. However, there are signs to watch out for that can help you determine if something is off. Some of them are:
These are signs that indicate that there is an issue. However, the moment that you find out your friend or someone close to you has an issue; it is crucial that you don’t ridicule or judge them because of their gambling problem. This does not help in any way, nor does forcing or threatening them to stop. Instead, it will encourage them to hide the problem and any other problems from you until it is too late.
The instant you observe these signs, the first and most critical move you can make is to get an education on the matter. You need to support them so that they can overcome their gambling addiction. However, you should not render any financial help or help them clear off debts. Rather, you can participate in their treatment process and help them find a financial service that could clear out their debts.
It can be hard to help a family member or friend dealing with gambling addiction to get treatment. This is except they are ready to do the task themselves but don’t have the needed resources to achieve it. Sometimes, you can convince a person to get treatment if you speak to them about their gambling and how it has negatively affected their lives and those around them.
For the process to go seamlessly, you need to be loving and show positivity while showing concern for their behaviour. Reaching out to close friends and family members to occasionally confront the gambler is also a method that can work.
In other cases, your best bet of helping a problem gambler get treatment is to speak to an expert first. You can reach out to professional bodies using their helplines to get direction from experts that will provide you with the appropriate steps to deal with a loved one who has a gambling problem. An example of an organization like this is Gambling Help Online (see below).
Suicide is prominent among compulsive gamblers. If you observe that a loved one is battling depression, or is becoming more introverted than usual, or if you are having suicidal thoughts, it is best to reach out to the suicidal helpline for assistance. The following are some national organizations that help with suicide prevention in various countries.
If you need help with gambling addiction, there are numerous organizations in Australia that specialise in this. These organizations provide treatment which ranges from counselling, group meetings with individuals dealing with similar conditions, and sometimes advanced treatment programs that may be combined with medication. While there are tons of organizations available today, here are some of the top and most reliable options in Australia that can help every compulsive and problem gambler unhook from casinos.
Essentially, responsible gambling is a movement or initiative to help prevent gambling addiction. There are many ways in which this is achieved by online casinos. For example, providing tools for players to limit their time spent gambling, the number of deposits they are making over a period of time or to self-exclude permanently from gambling sites. It's also providing information about the warning signs of gambling addiction and links to organisations that can help when someone feels they cannot control their gambling habits.
The legal age at which someone in Australia can gamble is 18. One of the main goals of the responsible gambling movement is to prevent underage gambling. That's because studies have shown that the earlier someone starts gambling, the harder it will be for them not to develop gambling problems in later life. This is why you have to prove your age when signing up at an online casino.
There are many players who show worrying signs of addiction or are in denial about it. However, there are many different surveys available online that you can take. If you answer the questions as honestly as possible, they will give you a good indication of whether or not you might need to seek outside help. And if you're already feeling that gambling is taking over your life in some way, the best thing to do is to speak confidentially with an expert as soon as possible. Many free-to-use organisations exist for this very purpose.
The vast majority of players experience no problems with gambling. In fact, they can take it or leave it. However, some players find it more difficult to say no. Therefore, it's important to set yourself a budget when gambling, and if you cross that line, then you vow to walk away. The same thing can apply to the amount of time you spend gambling. And if you ever feel like it's just not very fun anymore, that's an indication that you should at least take a break.