About Problem Gambling

Whether you’re concerned about a loved one or think you may have a problem, here’s exactly what you need to know to spot a gambling addiction:

It’s An Impulse

Although this addiction can manifest across just about any type of gambling, what every case has in common is this addiction always comes back to impulsiveness. Even if they want to walk away from a game, people with a gambling problem simply can’t do it. It doesn’t matter if they’re feeling fantastic or completely down; if there’s an opportunity to continue gambling, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

This Problem Only Gets Worse

One of the reasons awareness of this disorder isn’t as prominent as alcoholism or drug addiction is there aren’t usually obvious physical signs. For example, a gambling addict isn’t going to stumble down the street with a bottle in their hand or be found passed out with a needle in their arm. However, the damage inflicted by gambling addiction can be just as severe as any other type of addiction. In addition to digging a financial hole that seems impossible to get out of, the stress and guilt associated with a gambling problem can lead to suicide.

As with other types of addiction, it’s important to understand that someone can have a serious problem even if their life isn’t currently imploding. During the earlier phases of this problem, things like chasing losses may not seem as dire. But as the cycle continues, the consequences of those activities will continue to increase in severity. This concept also applies to gambling frequency. Daily gambling isn’t a requirement for being an addict. Just as someone who binge drinks can be an alcoholic, a person who’s gambling causes problems is likely an addict.

Three Key Signs

Defensiveness, secrecy and desperation are three of the most common signs associated with an addiction to gambling. If you’re worried about a loved one because you can’t even bring up their gambling without them snapping at you, you’re experiencing a textbook example of a gambling addict’s defensiveness. While some people struggling with addiction continue making up excuses, others give up that strategy and simply shut down. This type of shutting down is often characterized by withdrawing and an increase in secrecy. It’s common for things like missing savings or new loans to appear without any explanation.

Although an addict may be more defensive and secretive than ever before, if they ever come to you for money, you’re likely to experience a level of desperation that you’ve never seen before. Just as people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction only care about getting their next fix, gambling addicts reach a point where all they can think about is how they’re going to fund their next bet.

It’s Never Too Late to Get Help

Gambling can be a really fun activity. However, if you or a loved one are unable to keep this activity under control, you shouldn’t feel ashamed. Instead, the first step to reclaiming a life that’s been taken over by gambling is admitting that there’s a problem and professional help is needed.

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