Most people fail to realize that a gambling addiction is just as harmful as a drug addiction. It may not show physical signs but the emotional, psychological and financial damages are quite evident in all cases. The problem with gambling is that it attracts people by offering an easy way to make a quick buck. However, most gamblers “get lucky” only once in a while. The rest of the time, the odds are hardly in their favor. Ultimately, they end up losing more money than they can make through gambling.
Thanks to the coverage of gambling in media, we are all aware of the repercussions of this dangerous addiction. What they show on TV is not just fiction. It happens in real life and it is much worse when it happens to you or someone that you love. There is a difference between a casual bet and a constant need to gamble, or spend hours on end at a casino, or being in constant financial pitfalls due to a lack of funds. The difference is usually as clear as day, but there are some major tell tale signs:
Lie about it
Telling lies is the number one indicator of a gambling problem. People who struggle with gambling addiction generally tend to hide it from their family and friends. For this purpose, they lie repeatedly about a number of things. Some of the most common lies revolve around their whereabouts and about where they are getting the money from or on what they are spending it. If you find yourself lying about these things or know someone who does, you may have a gambling problem on your hands.
Sneaking money to gamble
While a gambler may think that gambling is a good way to earn money, in reality, it is the opposite – gambling is a quick way to lose money. This means that people suffering from a gambling addiction ultimately run out of cash. However, this does not keep them from gambling and they end up sneaking money to satisfy their craving to gamble. Most gamblers resort to borrowing money from family members, friends, coworkers or even strangers. When that does not suffice, they may turn to selling valuables. Sometimes, they may even end up stealing in order to fund their addiction.
Lost concentration at work or school
Just like substance addictions, a gambling problem takes over the life of a gambler. It is important to understand that people who suffer from gambling addiction are obsessed with it. Gambling is all they think about. It’s only natural that they lose interest in other activities. This affects their performance at school and work. It has been seen that a lot of gamblers end up losing their jobs because of their gambling problem and the issues that come with it.
Gambling as a coping mechanism
What would you expect an alcoholic to do after having a fight with their spouse? They are likely to turn to a bottle of alcohol to make themselves feel better. This happens because drinking is their coping mechanism and they turn to it after every inconvenience. Same is the case with gamblers. They gamble to cope with the stress in their lives, completely oblivious to the fact that it is gambling that is causing them that stress in the first place. Instead of realizing this, they continue to gamble to forget their problems and to feel a rush of euphoria and adrenaline at every bet.
A number of personality changes come with a gambling problem and they are hard to miss. The fear of not being able to continue gambling can take a toll on a person. Gamblers usually become withdrawn from the people who they were previously close to and generally tend to ignore their financial and emotional needs. Dishonesty and cheating become common in their relationships. They stop doing activities that they previously enjoyed and have conflicts with loved ones over money and other issues. Furthermore, their sexual patterns change, which leads to intimacy issues with their partner.
It is important to understand that this behavior can have grave consequences because it not only affects the individual but their whole family. Due to the personality changes that come with gambling issues, along with the life of the gamblers, the whole family structure and safety can be at stake.
A gambling addiction affects all parts of life and mental health is only one of them. It has multiple psychological effects that deteriorate the mental health of the gambler. For example, people who struggle with gambling problems often get anxious and have trouble concentrating on anything. Also, they are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs, which have their own set of adverse psychological effects. These people experience extreme mood swings and complain about being bored and restless. Sudden outbursts of anger are also common. Furthermore, they often become depressed and even display suicidal tendencies.
Just can’t stop gambling
Gambling becomes a problem when an individual can’t stop doing it. Even more alarming is the fact that gamblers often keep increasing the stakes. Just like a drug addict would eventually increase the “dose”, a gambling addict can’t help but increase the bets. Furthermore, thoughts of giving gambling up can make a gambler nervous and uneasy. When an individual is unable to stop gambling, despite knowing the repercussions that they and their family will have to endure because of it, it is a clear sign of addiction.
The little things
A gambling addiction can turn the life of an individual upside down and the signs are easy to notice in their everyday lives. Here is a list of some little things that may indicate that you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling problem.
- Alternating between being broke and flashing money.
- Unexplained appearance or disappearance of money.
- Family members complaining about missing valuables from the house.
- Taking money out of a savings account.
- Frequently skipping school or work.
- Performance at school or work being affected.
- Displaying irresponsible or risky behavior.
- Being secretive about unexplained absences.
- Displaying manipulative behavior.
- Making a fake ID card.
- Spending a lot of time in casinos and clubs.
- Borrowing/stealing money from people.
- Neglecting loved ones and their needs.
- Frequently getting into fights.
- A change in sleeping or eating pattern.
- Talking/ thinking about gambling all the time.
There are dozens and dozens of little signs that indicate compulsive gambling, but it is still difficult to detect a gambling problem. It is even more difficult to accept that you have it. If you think you have a gambling problem or know someone who might be struggling with it, it is advisable to contact Arizona Addiction Recovery Center to get the help that you need. Make a wise choice and get your life back on the track before it’s too late!
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