Online gambling is just a form of entertainment but unfortunately, it can be addictive to some people, so much so that many cultures still deem gambling a taboo. A compulsive gambling addiction creates damaging results, ranging from minor financial problems to ruining professional and personal lives. This article will show you the symptoms of gambling addiction so you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.
Gambling Addiction Symptoms
You Just Can’t Stop: Compulsive Gambling
The easiest and most straightforward way to determine if you have an online gambling addiction is to ask yourself: do I have trouble stopping? Most people linger on when doing an activity they love, but if ‘linger on’ means you gamble for hours on end uncontrollably, that’s for sure an addictive behavior. Maybe you even tried to quit gambling before, only to relapse soon after. If these sound familiar, you might very well be a compulsive gambler.
Lying About Your Gambling Habits
If you catch yourself lying to your friends and family, it’s a good sign you’re having a gambling problem. Think about it, if gambling was only a normal and healthy hobby for you, why lie at all? Lying means you subconsciously know that something is wrong and you feel guilty about what you’re doing. Even worse, some gambling addicts lie just to be able to keep placing the next bet without anyone stopping them.
Sometimes, the guilt born from gambling addiction is so strong that people even lie to themselves. This is called pathological gambling. When your behaviors do not match your own values and standards, you may start to rationalize them to feel better about yourself. Sayings such as: “Well this is just because I’m having a lot of stress this month.” or “Other people waste more money than me.” are all pathological gambling lies.
Another form of gambling addiction is when somebody can’t stop placing bets to ‘recover’ their lost money. Some people have a huge ego that doesn’t let them accept losing. But as we all know, more bets most likely lead to more losses, which trigger the loss-chasing cycle all over again.
Gambling With Money You Can’t Afford To Lose
Most healthy gamblers have a set budget specifically for gambling, and when they spend all of it, they stop. People with a gambling addiction, however, spend money they can’t afford to lose, resulting in debts and them leasing properties to pay for gambling.
If your gambling habits cause you to borrow money, steal or cheat, you definitely are addicted to gambling. Even gambling without having a clear limit upon which you’re willing to stop is a terrible habit that will set you right on the path to becoming addicted.
Constantly Feeling Negative When You’re Not Gambling
Addiction is often a coping mechanism used to escape problems in life. Compulsive gambling addicts may find themselves depressed, anxious and helpless when they’re not gambling. Unsurprisingly, using gambling as a distractor from your emotions not only doesn’t help, it makes the negative feelings even worse over time.
But doesn’t everybody gamble because it feels good? If so, how to tell if your gambling dopamine is innocent or a coping mechanism? It’s true that most people first approach gambling just to feel good, but the point when it becomes an addiction is if you have to gamble to feel ‘normal’, in other words, to not feel terrible.
Constantly Increasing Bet Size
The thrill of gambling ultimately comes from the danger of losing your money or the prospect of it doubling. But for those addicted to gambling, placing the same bet over and over again doesn’t provide them enough dopamine. If you have a problem gambling normally, you may notice that you need to keep upping your stakes to feel the thrill. Many online slots have a history of your bets available so use it to determine whether you have this tendency.
You Gamble At Inappropriate Places
It’s safe to say you’re a gambling addict when it’s on your mind 24/7. For those gambling in land-based casinos, they could only daydream about gambling until they set foot inside a casino. But for online gambling addicts, they can open up a gambling site at their office or when spending time with family.
This is why compulsive gambling isn’t just harmful to your wallet. When your mind is constantly occupied by gambling, you’ll start to see it takes effect on your work life and damages your relationships with loved ones as well.
Gambling Addiction Treatment
Here are a few suggestions for how you can approach overcoming a gambling problem.
Face Up To Your Addiction
The first and most important step is to admit that you have a compulsive gambling problem that needs to be addressed. If you’re still in denial, nothing you do will have much of an effect. Consider writing down how much better your life would be if you stop gambling – this will serve as good perspective and motivation.
Make A Plan With Deadlines
Try writing on your calendar each step you’re going to take on which day. Having a deadline helps accelerate the process, or else you will just leave it for tomorrow. Don’t quit gambling cold-turkey because it never works. Instead, give yourself like a week to reduce your gambling hours to half, then another week to 1/3 and so on.
Replace Real Gambling With Social Gambling
If you’re having trouble quitting gambling completely, you can try replacing it with another version of it. On social gambling sites, you can gamble without losing money while talking to people around the world. It’s a good way to still feel like you’re gambling but you don’t suffer from financial loss. Additionally, making friends and talking to people improves mental health, which was a big part of why your addiction might have started in the first place.
Get Personal or Professional Help
Don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones, explain your situation and ask them to keep you in check: emotional support goes a long way in combating relapses. If needs be, contact a professional or an institution: they have helped many people similar to you. In most cases, addiction is just the result of another underlying psychological issue, so a therapist can help you find the root of the problem.