People tend to think of addicts as people who are hooked on some type of drug or substance. Only in the last 10 years has the idea that someone could become addicted to a habit been received as possible. Gambling addictions and drug addictions are similar in many ways. As with drug addicts, gambling addicts share several of the same tendencies such as impulsive and reward-seeking behaviors. Both types of addicts experience withdrawal when not engaging in use/activity, and these similarities have caused experts to reconsider the definition of addiction as “repeatedly pursuing a rewarding experience despite serious repercussions”.
Cognitive therapy has proven to be an effective way to combat gambling addictions, as it teaches patients to resist urges, bad habits, and triggering environments. Unfortunately, 80% of people who suffer from gambling addictions fail to seek treatment. Of the 20% that do, 75% return to a casino or gambling hall and fail to recover from their addiction.
Many people suffer from an addiction to gambling in silence. They are fearful to have anyone they love find out about their addiction because they think that they will not be trusted and will be judged. If you think that someone you love is suffering from a gambling addiction, use the following guide to learn a few telltale signs that may help you determine if your suspicions are correct. Below are 5 signs that your loved one may be suffering from a gambling addiction.
1. Money Being Hidden
Someone suffering from a gambling addiction will often hide money. They may be hiding money that they have won and don’t know how to account for, or they may be hiding money so that they can have it readily available for the next time that they want to gamble. Look through books, under lamps, in between cushions, and in any small spaces where someone may want to hide something to see if your loved one is hiding money from you.
2. Money Disappearing Unexpectedly
Someone who is addicted to gambling has a compulsion to gamble that they cannot explain. Winning big gives them a high, and losing tempts them to keep playing until they score a win. They think about it night and day, and will take things from others in order to be able to gamble when they want to. If you have noticed money suddenly go missing without any clue as to where it has gone, your loved one may have stolen it from you.
Take close inventory of the money that you have on hand, make a mark on each bill, and check it regularly. If you notice that any of your money has gone missing, ask your loved one to spot you some cash or simply look through their wallet to see if the marked bills are in it. If so, you know they have been stealing from you. Gambling addicts might even steal household items and possessions, pawn them off, and use the money to gamble.
3. Staying Out All Hours of the Night
When someone is gambling, they often lose track of the time. They get so caught up in the game that they don’t even realize that hours have passed since they sat down at the table to start playing. If your loved one has started staying out all hours of the night with no explanation for where they have been, they may have a gambling addiction. Casinos are generally open 24/7, which makes it easy for addicts to get caught up in the game and play for hours and hours on end. Additionally, most casinos don’t have windows or visible clocks. Venues do this intentionally so people lose track of time and play for much longer than they would have if they knew it was 4 o’clock in the morning, or looked out a window and realized the sun was coming up.
4. Unexplainable Stress and Anxiety
Someone who gambles frequently and owes money to a lot of people will often seem on edge and uneasy. They never know when people will come to collect the money that is owed, and this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. If your loved one has started to become very jumpy and is on the edge most of the time, they may have racked up a gambling debt. Try to ask them why they’re feeling uneasy. If they are demonstrating other signs of a gambling addiction, and seem closed off or embarrassed to share the reason for their stress, they may be suffering from this issue and do not know how to get help or help themselves.
5. Associating with New People
Gambling addiction can cause someone to start to hang out with people that they may have never hung out with before. This is because they like to surround themselves with other gamblers so that they can do it together. This helps them to feel as though what they are doing is acceptable and can help to diminish some of the guilt that they may feel. Think about it: if a group of people is engaging in the same activity as you, that activity becomes more normalized in your brain and causes you to rationalize behavior that would otherwise be seen as negative or bad.
If you feel that you have a loved one who is suffering from a gambling addiction, it’s important to support them and help them get assistance to overcome their addiction. They may need to go to rehab if the cause of their gambling is due to other conditions such as a co-occurring addiction or depression, which can be common among gamblers. If the addiction isn’t too severe, working with a support group to learn how to battle their addiction in a positive way may be enough to help them recover.
Arizona Addiction Recovery Center offers cognitive therapy programs and treats a wide range of conditions and addictions, both in individual and group settings. If you think that you or a loved one might benefit from the help of our services, call us today at 602.346.9130.
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