Gambling has been an enduring activity that has captivated various societies throughout history. From the European elite to the Romans, Greeks, and Assyrians to sprawling Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos, it has served as a form of entertainment. However, it is paramount to acknowledge that gambling can become a harmful addiction for some individuals. To prevent potential problems, it is important to identify and address this addictive pattern promptly, ideally through a gambling treatment program.
Am I addicted to gambling?
Considered an “impulse-control” disorder, a gambling addiction, or compulsive gambling, is characterized by experts as a condition where individuals continue to gamble irrespective of the potential outcomes. Regardless of whether they win or lose, feel happy or depressed, compulsive gamblers persistently engage in betting activities.
Compulsive gambling can be big or small and runs the gambit from land based casinos, stocks, sports betting, and online gambling. As online casinos continue to gross billions of dollars, more attention to responsible online gambling continues to come into focus. Igaming and online sportsbooks have entire sections devoted to responsible gaming, not only to maintain their license requirements, but to help their members safeguard their mental health and let gambling addiction rule them.
How do I know I’m addicted?
The indications of a gambling problem bear resemblance to other addictions, yet they may present themselves in a more inconspicuous way or go unnoticed for an extended period of time. Several common signs include:
- Engaging in gambling activities using funds that should be allocated for essential needs, such as food and rent.
- Being unable to control one’s gambling or spending habits. – Feeling the need to keep one’s gambling activities hidden.
- Friends and family expressing concern or worry.
- Experiencing financial difficulties, loss of employment, or legal issues as a consequence of gambling.
Gambling sites often have information of a simple quiz to help you identify the early signs of gambling addiction.
How substance abuse impacts gambling addiction
In numerous instances, problem gamblers find themselves grappling with an additional addiction. Frequently, this co-occurring addiction manifests as a dependence on alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine. These substances are often chosen because they offer a sense of energy or relaxation.
Furthermore, land-based casinos often provide complimentary alcohol, making it easily accessible for individuals who frequent these establishments. Consequently, the likelihood of regular consumption of these drinks is heightened. Moreover, as time passes, problem gamblers may experience increased levels of stress, anxiety, or depression. Consequently, they resort to these substances as a means of seeking solace from troubling emotions.
Substance abuse, particularly drugs and alcohol, can impair judgment and decision-making abilities. This can lead individuals to make riskier choices when it comes to gambling, as they may be less able to assess the potential consequences of their actions.
Substance use can lower inhibitions and increase impulsivity, which may contribute to increased risk-taking behavior in gambling. Individuals under the influence may be more likely to engage in larger bets or more frequent gambling sessions.
How gambling addiction takes it toll
Gambling addictions do not typically result in many direct physical effects. However, when an individual excessively engages in gambling, it can lead to the development of depression or anxiety, which can subsequently disrupt their sleep patterns. This lack of sleep can manifest in various physical symptoms, such as pale skin, weight fluctuations, acne, weakened immune system, and hair loss.
Nevertheless, it is the psychological effects of a gambling addiction that should be of utmost concern. These effects alone should serve as a compelling reason to seek help and support from a treatment program specialized in gambling addiction. Excessive gambling can give rise to a wide range of emotional problems, including depression, anger, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. These emotions often stem from the devastating consequences of losing everything, leaving the individual feeling utterly hopeless and isolated.
Both substance abuse and gambling addiction can have severe financial consequences. When these issues co-occur, the financial impact can be compounded. Individuals may spend money on substances and gambling to the detriment of their financial stability, leading to increased debt and financial hardship.
Some individuals turn to substance abuse and gambling as coping mechanisms to deal with stress, anxiety, or other underlying issues. The combination of these two behaviors can create a cycle of escapism, where individuals use one to cope with the consequences or stressors of the other.
Substance abuse and gambling addiction can reinforce each other in a cycle of addiction. For example, someone may use substances to cope with the negative emotions resulting from gambling losses, which can then lead to increased gambling to recover financial losses or escape the challenges associated with substance abuse.
Both substance abuse and gambling addiction can contribute to social isolation. Individuals may withdraw from family and friends due to the stigma associated with these behaviors, leading to a lack of support and exacerbating the addictive cycle.
Unchecked gambling addiction can lead to suicide
Individuals who are addicted to gambling and have not undergone any form of treatment face an exceptionally elevated risk of attempting suicide, particularly during a period of extreme desperation. Whether it is yourself or someone dear to you who is contemplating suicide, it is crucial to promptly reach out to a suicide helpline, medical professional, therapist, or rehabilitation center.
Getting help for gambling addiction
Those who suffer from a gambling addiction and have not sought treatment are at a significantly heightened risk of attempting suicide, particularly when they find themselves in a state of extreme desperation. It is imperative to treat any thoughts or mentions of suicide with the utmost gravity. Whether it is you or a loved one contemplating suicide, it is crucial to immediately contact a suicide helpline, medical doctor, therapist, or rehabilitation center.