For some, an addiction to gambling may not be seen as a serious problem, but this unfortunately, is why many people have such difficulty identifying a problem gambler. An addiction to gambling can be just as serious, if not worse than an addiction to alcohol and drugs. So much in fact that there are many similarities identifying the various addictions. And although a drug or alcohol problem is a serious one, it really only affects the addict themselves, whereas an addiction to gambling will always directly affect both the addict and the many loved ones that are closest to them.
Warning Signs of an Addiction to Gambling
Identifying an addiction to gambling is easier than you might think, but you will have to pay close attention to the addict to spot the signs as they will, like all addicts, attempt to hide the symptoms. This is why you should pay close attention to the list below to spot the signs, be it if you’re an addict or if you think that a loved one is suffering at the hands of an addiction. The signs of an addiction to gambling are:
- The person will develop a fixation on gambling to the point where it begins to affect all their decision making.
- They are constantly talking and thinking about gambling
- The addict will ignore all budgets and will not hesitate to gamble away money they do not necessarily have.
- When attempting to stop or slow, the gambler will become immensely irritable and will lash out at anybody.
- The gambler will feel extremely lost, empty and unable to focus on normal tasks when they are not gambling.
- They will attempt to cover past losses by making bigger, riskier bets.
- An addict will believe that a single “big win” will make up for all past losses and will make them whole again.
- Borrowing money, selling personal items and theft are all considered when the gambler hasn’t got any money to gamble with.
- Any addict will have plenty of unpaid bills, debt and final notices that they will be unable to pay due to a lack of funds.
- Gambling addicts will not worry with a budget. They will always gamble until all the money is finished and they are penniless.
- Addicts will take unnecessary risks and make bigger wagers when attempting to get that “high” back.
- Addicts will often use gambling as a way to escape from personal obligations, social functions and family gatherings.
- They will become irritable when they have to deal with normal, everyday activities.
- Some addicts will feel extremely guilty about their actions and what the consequences of their gambling might be, but they are powerless to change.
- Problem gamblers will become extremely defensive about their addiction when confronted by friends or family.
If a friend, family member, colleague or you yourself have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, you will need to seek help immediately.
The Roles Played By Friends and Family
Friends and family play one of the most important roles in identifying and helping a gambling addict. This is largely due to the fact that the gambler will hardly ever realise they have a problem until it’s too late. Friends and family will be able to identify the problem faster as they will in some way have been affected by the actions of the person in question. It is also up to them to help the gambler overcome the addiction with support and constant encouragement. An addiction to gambling is something that cannot be solved by the gambler alone.
There are many different support groups that an addict can turn to if they feel they cannot seek help alone or with their friends and family. There are many addiction centres that will offer professional help and will be able to help you recover and begin leading a normal life again. These centres are:
- Gambler Anonymous
- National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)
- Responsible Gambling Council
Find Help Fast
Getting help is the only way to overcome an addiction to gambling as it will never just go away. Gambling can be an extremely dangerous thing to play around with and an addiction will never just disappear. Not unless the proper help is sought. If you think you have a problem, you should look for help immediately as an addiction to gambling will only get worse with time.