The Truth About Gambling Addiction
When most people think about gambling, they think about cutting loose, or “kicking back” on vacation. Or, gambling may conjure up images of high-rollers and spending nights at fancy casinos. Additionally, the term “gambling” may spark imagery of card games, innocent slot machines, or friendly wagers on a sporting event.
But, unfortunately, for some people, gambling is anything but innocent and friendly. Some people suffer from a gambling addiction– officially known as compulsive gambling. Addiction affects the brain, and, usually, gambling treatment is necessary.
Here are five signs you or someone you know has a gambling addiction:
1. Inability to Stop
People who gamble for fun understand how to set limits and walk away. Compulsive gamblers lack the ability to stop, and find it hard to say no. This can lead to significant losses of time and money. The inability to stop is directly related to the “high” that many compulsive gamblers get from the risk-reward factor. This inability to stop is reflected in the 1st step of the 12 steps– admitting powerlessness and unmanageability. If the reality is that you cannot stop when you start, or cannot predict the outcome after the first roll of the dye, you most likely have a gambling addiction.
But, always consult with a mental health professional, and do not try to diagnose yourself. Knowing when you have a problem or are powerless, takes a huge amount of courage. Change takes courage. Admitting that you have a problem to another person takes a colossal amount of courage.
2. Chasing Losses
Everyone has heard the saying “the house always wins.” That statement is difficult for people suffering from gambling addiction to believe. Many gambling addicts find it hard to walk away because they are constantly chasing losses. No matter how deep the hole, they believe they can recoup their losses and somehow come out on top. This is often a vicious cycle that leads to an increasingly large debt.
The laws of probability govern the fact that no matter how much you win gambling, you can never come out on top. Whatever money you put in, you will either never see again, or break even. This is true over a certain period of time. Most people, if given the opportunity to go back and track their wins and losses, would see that the sum total of losses will always outweigh the wins.
3. Gambling With Money You Can’t Lose
Because compulsive gamblers are left chasing losses, they soon run out of any disposable income they may have once had, and are gambling with money they cannot afford to lose. But, you say, “none of us have money to lose.” Yes, that is an accurate statement. But, not when you suffer from gambling addiction.
When you have some measure of disposable income and your family is not relying on that money to pay the rent, or to put food on the table, it is easy to justify your gambling. But in reality, you really cannot lose that money. Whether it’s money for mortgage or rent, food, insurance, or extra money, a gambling addict can’t draw the line.
Many will seek loans from friends and family members when they run out of their own money. Most will drain all resources around them, either through friends, family, or financial institutions. Gambling addiction can dig a very deep hole– one that can be difficult to escape.
4. Gambling is More Than Entertainment
Most people gamble for the entertainment factor. Most associate gambling with being in the company of friends, experiencing a little bit of risk, and enjoying the possibility, or reality of, winning. Compulsive gamblers do not gamble for entertainment; they gamble as a way of life. It is often a form of coping with stress and anxiety. Like drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction is a way to deflect reality. The reality that is usually deflected is financial difficulty or insecurity.
Not being able to “live life on life’s terms” is usually the demise of the gambling addict which mirrors that of the drug and alcohol addict. Much of our lives was dedicated to feeding our egos and addiction, but mostly to feel better about ourselves and our reality. Sobriety is about taking responsibility for your actions and work ethic– NOT cheating the system, which is what a gambling addict is ceaselessly striving for.
5. Lying and Trying to Cover Up Your Addiction
Compulsive gamblers usually feel some measure of guilt or shame associated with their addiction. They will lie to friends and family members in an attempt to cover up their secret life. This can be detrimental to relationships and can compromise trust. Not only is it detrimental, it is purely exhausting. Living a double-life makes you a slave to your addiction. You have to calculate every word you say and every step you take. You begin to put the priority on poker rather than the people who love you.
While gambling may be a fun recreational activity for some people, it can also become an addiction for those who have compulsive personality traits. Any type of addiction creates a path of destruction and hurt in the life of the addict and the family members. Addiction is called a “family disease” because it affects the entire family and alters a family’s dynamic, permanently. Gambling addiction drives a wedge between yourself and those you love.
6. Avoiding Friends and Family Members
Addiction is an isolating illness. Not only do you create distrust between your loved ones, you also begin to totally close yourself off, for fear of being found out, or someone realizing that you have a problem. When you begin avoiding your friends and family members, you cut yourself off from people who care for your safety and well-being.
Alienation deepens the grip gambling addiction has on your life. It becomes the one place of solitude and is synonymous with feeling anything at all. The subsequent emotional numbness that stems from gambling addiction is characterized by feelings of aloneness, even in a crowded room. If you avoid family functions, friendly gatherings, or people all-together, that is a sign that you need help. Mental illness can be treated, with the proper approach.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to gambling, don’t hesitate to seek help. For more information on treatment options and recovery, contact Drug Treatment Center Finder, today.