What is Gambling Addiction & do you need Help?
There are many treatment methods available, including therapy, self-help organizations, and medication. Some events can trigger problem behaviour, such as stress, trauma, and retirement.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, one out of every 100 people in the world is a gambler. Approximately three to five million people worldwide struggle with addiction to gambling. An estimated 20 million people admit that their gambling habits interfere with their jobs, and at least 10 million people in the United States are considered to be “problem gamblers.” In the UK, nearly 430,000 people are considered problem gamblers.
What are the Symptoms?
Gambling addiction can be a problem for many people.
- Gambling is an addiction that keeps you preoccupied and looking for new ways to make money.
- I’m sure you feel ashamed when you gamble, and might want to hide your addiction from others.
- You may have a negative impact on your relationship.
- Leads to depression
- Causes migraines
- Keeps you from being able to change your habits.
To recognize gambling addiction, look for the following symptoms. Some people experience one or two of these feelings, but if several fit your situation and you feel that you have problems controlling your gambling, then seek help.
Causes of Gambling Addiction
There are several risk factors involved in the disorder:
- Depression, personality disorders, and anxiety can all make an addiction worse. OCD and ADHD tend to have this effect as well.
- People of all ages can develop an addiction to alcohol.
- Men are more likely to become addicted to gambling, but women can develop an addiction more quickly.
- Family members and friends who struggle with addiction are more likely to experience addiction themselves.
- Medications that increase dopamine levels in the brain can be used to treat Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome, though some people experience compulsive behaviour when taking these medications.
- People with certain personality traits are more likely to experience it.
The factors that can contribute to a gambling addiction include mental health issues, age, medications and personal characteristics.
Dr. Frances Jensen, neurologist and author of The Insulin Effect: How Sugar, Fat and Genes Control Your Appetite, says that younger people are more impulsive because their brains haven’t fully developed insulin in their body yet. This process takes years and the younger you are, the more likely you will become addicted.
Is stress related to gambling addiction?
Yes, stress can make you more likely to be addicted. Psychologists studying college students found that higher stress leads to higher impulse disorders.
Is retirement the cause of gambling addiction?
Yes, retirement can lead to boredom. When people retire, their lives change dramatically and they have more free time than when they were employed. Some retirees turn to gambling as a way to pass the time because they don’t have many other interests during their days off. Psychologists have found that boredom leads to diminished self-control and an increase in poor decision-making (if you’re interested in learning more about this link between boredom and poor decision-making, check out this blog post by The New Yorker :).
Types of Gambling Addiction
Psychiatrist Robert Custer identified six categories of gambling addicts: the professional, who considers it an occupation and does not think of themselves as addicts; the compulsive gambler, who gambles in response to stress and enjoys the excitement; the social gambler, who gambles in order to impress others; the impulsive gambler, who gambles for unplanned reasons but does not enjoy it so much; the pathological gambler, who is unable to control his or her gambling and has lost everything; and the addictive gambler, who develops an addiction after a few experiences with gambling.
One type of gambler is the antisocial personality gambler, who is more likely to fix bets and may have a history of unlawful behavior. Another type of gambler is the casual social gambler, who bets infrequently and rarely develops problem habits.
Social gamblers use it as a form of entertainment, while pathological gamblers are at risk of developing an addiction. They gamble on fighting anxiety and depression.
Gamblers who have lost all control over their habits are considered to be compulsive-pathological gamblers.
How much of a problem is gambling?
According to the National Center for Responsible Gambling, about 80% of adults gamble in the United States each year. That number includes 26% of the world’s population – which translates to 1.6 billion people.
According to a UK Gambling Commission study, 47% of British people gambled in the four weeks after Christmas. Experts say that the Asia-Pacific market is growing fastest in the gambling industry.
According to the Africa Exponent , one in ten Africans gamble frequently, and Australia ranks fifth in the world when it comes to gambling losses per citizen.
How to Deal With Gambling Addiction?
Nine signs are listed below:
- Gambling can make you feel restless and irritable when you’re just not in the right mood.
- As you spend more and more money, you become less and less excited.
- You think about gambling often, and you’re probably planning to go back soon.
- You’ve tried to stop multiple times and failed.
- Even though you’ve lost money, you continue to gamble.
- You gamble when you’re upset.
- You lie about your habits.
- You ask friends and relatives for money to gamble.
- You have a lot of work to do in order to improve your relationships or work.
If you’ve experienced four or more of these symptoms within the last year, you may have a gambling problem.
How to Overcome Gambling Addiction?
When you’re trying to overcome a gambling addiction, the following suggestions may help:
- If you want to stop gambling, you can start with self-help. You can learn how to relieve stress in other ways, join a support group and strengthen your support system.
- If you are addicted to gambling, consider why you gamble and find other ways to satisfy your cravings. For example, if you gamble for the thrill of winning money, then try playing a sport or competitive hobby instead.
- Talk to your doctor about prescription drugs that can reduce your urge to gamble. Some medications include antidepressants.
- If you are experiencing stress or anxiety, talk to your doctor about seeing a therapist. Cognitive or behavioural therapy can help you reduce the urge to act out your bad habits and replace irrational, unhealthy, or harmful beliefs with more rational ones.
- Learning to work on self-respect is an important part of overcoming a gambling addiction. A sense of self-worth can be boosted by imagining financial gain and social acceptance when you gamble, but once you’ve gambled away your money, this feeling decreases significantly.
- Family or marital therapy is a useful method for helping you work through your addiction problems.
To completely heal, you’ll need to rebuild your self-esteem. Challenge negative thoughts and focus on your positive qualities.
Therapy and medications can help you address aspects of your gambling behaviour. On the other hand, self-help and motivation techniques can help you change your circumstances so that gambling becomes less appealing to you.
Family and self-respect are two ways you can help yourself heal from an addiction. To fully recover, you’ll need to use both of these methods.
What are the first three steps of gambling addiction?
Treatment steps include:
- Many people struggle with the first step in recovery, admitting you have a problem. But you won’t make progress if you’re unwilling to admit that you’re an addict. If you’re pressured into treatment, you’ll likely resist it.
- To prevent relapse after treatment, stay away from gamblers and keep in touch with a therapist or sponsor.
- If you’re looking for help with your addiction, reach out to professionals. They’ll help you figure out which treatment options are right for you and tailor a treatment plan based on your specific needs.
To stay on track and achieve your goals, you can learn to recognize and avoid triggers that will pull you off course.
Is Therapy Useful for Overcoming Gambling Addiction?
Yes, therapy can help you overcome a gambling addiction. Cognitive behavioural therapy uses the power of rational thought and teaches you how to change your behaviour for the better.
Can Gambling Movies Lead to Gambling Addiction?
Yes, people can become addicted to gambling. Cognitive psychologist Nigel Turner found that many gambling movies show it positively with miraculous wins and even those that show problem gambling have happy endings involving the person winning everything back.
The depictions of gambling in films don’t help, because they encourage an unhealthy view of gambling and rarely show someone seeking help. This unhealthy belief can lead to continued gambling addiction. None of these movies are banned, however; instead, they are screened at casinos or private establishments.
Should a Gambling Addict Be Honest About His/Her Habit?
Yes, it’s important for an addict to explain his or her addiction to family members. They’ll be worried about you and how it’s affecting your finances.
If you feel that it’s important, you should tell your family. Family counselling is an essential step in your recovery from gambling addiction.
Get Help for Gambling Addiction
There are many organisations, hotlines and support groups that can help you or a friend overcome problem gambling. Here are some of the most prominent ones:
- Gamcare in the UK
- Gambling addiction worldwide affects many people, so Gamblers Anonymous can help.
- Australian Gambling Help Online
- The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada