Addiction can be crippling and wreak havoc on your life. As with any addiction, gambling can interfere with your life, relationships and work. Many people struggle with the effects of a gambling addiction, and can often find themselves spiraling out of control quickly. Getting help for addiction is the first step in recovery and resuming your normal life.
Why People Become Addicted
There are many theories about why some people become addicted and others do not. What most experts agree upon is that there is a pleasure center of the brain that releases endorphins and encourages us to repeat the activity. In some cases, this can be a good things. Endorphins encourage us to exercise more, spend times with loved ones or work hard to solve a task. The problem comes in when these pleasurable activities become addictions. Gambling is one of the most incendiary of these addictions, because it can lead to financial and personal ruin.
Whether you bet on sports games, visit casinos or play lottery, a gambling addiction can quickly get out of control. Some people with a history of mental illness are more susceptible to addictive behaviors than others, and these individuals may find themselves unable to control these impulses. Some people with gambling addictions have been known to sell their possessions, steal and beg to get money to feed their addictions. Job instability is common in people with gambling addiction, as the brain is hyper focused on gambling and the sufferer will neglect work responsibilities to feed the obsession.
Gambling addiction can have other far-reaching consequences. A person who gambles may also drink alcohol while gambling (common in casino settings), affecting their health. They may also start smoking or be in constant contact with people who smoke.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from gambling addiction, there are several signs that may tip you off.
Many people with addiction often try to hide this from their family and ffriends. There is nothing wrong with a fun night at the casino, but if you are hiding it from the ones you love, it may be an indication that it has gotten out of control.
-Unable to Walk Away
If you can’t simply walk away from a losing hand, or find the need to keep betting more to win back lost money, you may have an addiction. When you have gambled so much that you no longer have money to get home or you have spend your rent money, it may indicate a problem.
-Loss of Finances and Possessions
Some people gamble their lives away when they are in the thick of addiction. This may mean tapping into savings, money for utility bills and even a child’s piggy bank in order to get money to feed the habit. Some people bet their cars, their jewelry and even their homes. When gambling is a necessity and you can’t stop, it is time to get help.
Getting Help for Gambling Addiction
The first step in recovery from gambling addiction is to acknowledge there is a problem and take steps to solve it. There are many agencies and counselors available that will help you to pinpoint the causes of your addiction, the emotions that trigger it and a plan for overcoming it. For some people, intense therapy may uncover a problem in another part of your life that is driving the addiction.
There are many forms of gambling addiction therapy available. For most people, a combination of private counseling and support groups is enough to tackle the problem. Others need more intense treatment, and may need to get help for other conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for gambling addiction. This form of therapy addresses the underlying false beliefs and negative self-talk that often leads to addiction. It also teaches coping techniques that can help people make constructive choices rather than turn to gambling in times of stress.
Making Lifestyle Changes
In the beginning stages of kicking a gambling addiction, you will have to make some behavioral changes that will help you to enjoy long-term success. If you have friends that host a weekly poker game, you may have to simply replace that with a different activity. Avoid places that can tempt you to gamble. This means staying away from casinos, race tracks and sports bars. If you regularly buy a lottery ticket while you are filling up for gas, pay at the pump and avoid going inside the gas station.
Fill up your time. Gambling addiction often results as a consequence of boredom. If you have down time after work, get together with friends who don’t gamble or spend the time exercising. Avoid taking cash out of the ATM and pay your bills through automatic payments. Block gaming sites on your computer by having a friend or family member add a parental filter. Inform them not to tell you the code. By taking away the usual temptations—boredom, extra money, online access—you will limit your temptation to gamble.
While these steps may seem drastic, they are often necessary when it comes to dealing with your addiction and breaking free of the behaviors that led to the problems in the first place.
Replace Your Reason
For most gamblers, there is a reason that they decide to place a few bets. Those reasons may be boredom, a need for extra money, a rush of adrenaline or to be social. Replace these events with constructive ones to aid in your recovery.
Adrenaline and Excitement
If gambling gives you a rush of excitement, try to duplicate that with another activity. Join a gym with a rock-climbing wall and visit each day. Go mountain biking or watch your favorite action movie. Do anything to keep your mind occupied and not focused on gambling.
Solve Money Problems
Overdue bills, a low paying job or dreams of riches can often drive people to gambling. If your need to gamble is driven by the need for more money, consider taking a financial management class or opening an investment account and stashing the lottery ticket money in it to earn interest. Build up a savings cushion that will give you extra funds that you can tap into in emergencies. With a little extra money on the side, you will be less likely to feel the need to gamble with your hard earned money.
Escape from Problems
One of the most challenging reasons that gambling counselors face is helping people who gamble to escape from life’s stressors. The key is to replace gambling with another escapist activity. Some people read, other people exercise, some people spend intimate time with their spouses. Swimming, walks outside—even trashy TV—can all help you to escape without damaging your relationships and your finances.
If you feel that you have a gambling problem, it is important to know that you are not alone. Many people suffer from the effects of problem gaming, and there is professional help available to get you through it. By pinpointing the factors behind your addiction, you can recover and start to live life without the stress and strain that addiction causes.
Gamcare.org is one of the premier sites for addiction help, and they can link you to the resources you need to fight against the demons of addiction. With online, phone and in-person counseling support, Gamcare.org the most comprehensive gambling awareness site online. Log on and find the solutions you need today.