Before exploring the various different signs that a gambling addiction is present, it’s important for the person who has become addicted to fully understand that they actually have an addiction.
Unlike drug addiction, the signs and symptoms that someone has become addicted to gambling are not as obvious. It is entirely possible that people could be completely unaware of their addiction for a long time before they identify that they have a problem, and chances are, they may only discover it by being confronted by a concerned friend, co-worker, or family member.
This article will explore the signs of a potential addiction to gambling which may not be immediately obvious. It will provide information that people can use to identify the warning signs, so that they may have a chance to prevent their friends or family from addiction. Moreover, it will provide information on how to beat gambling addiction.
#1 Gambling Too Often
Although this might seem extremely obvious, consider this: What is the right amount of time or a healthy amount of time for a person to spend gambling? Gambling itself can be a harmless pastime, if observed and conducted in a sensible and balanced manner.
If a person finds that they are spending all of their free time in a casino or gambling online, or if they find themselves ignoring commitments at work or with family and friends, this could be a big sign that they have become addicted to gambling.
Elsewhere, other signs related to this could be that the individual finds themselves discussing their wins and losses, or gambling in general a lot of time. If the topic is constantly on their mind, they might have a problem.
Another important thing to consider is that gambling is available everywhere, and in different forms. For instance, people can engage in online gambling via a computer or mobile device. They can purchase scratch cards or lottery tickets, and they can bet on sports and major events, and many other types of mediums.
#2 Neglecting Family
If the individual does not have an immediate family (i.e. a spouse and/or children) this might not be as noticeable straightaway, but it will certainly be noticeable if the person has immediate family and is suddenly not at home as much as they used to be.
Other issues related to this could be that the individual has severed relationships in favour of spending more time gambling, or the addiction could also lead the person to start lying and becoming more secretive in an effort to hide that they are spending time gambling.
# 3 Lying, Stealing, and Becoming Secretive
If a person is making significant losses, they might try to hide this from their friends and loved ones because they know it’s a problem, but they don’t wish to stop gambling. They could also be in denial and think their losses are not that big, and they might also believe that they can easily make their money back by gambling more.
The individual might resort to lying to their friends and family, stealing money from people, or even taking out loans from banks or loan sharks in an effort to keep gambling and win back everything they’ve lost.
#4 Getting into Debt or Financial Difficulties
This stage of gambling addiction can take many forms depending on the life situation of the person in question. It could begin with issues such as falling behind on bills, falling into an overdraft position in their bank account, and borrowing money from friends and family.
It could then lead to people not being able to pay for food and drinks, or even not paying for their basic utility bills at home (even if they have a paid job). This could lead to the worst level, where people begin taking out loans or taking out illegal loans with loan sharks in an effort to sustain their gambling addiction.
This of course would put them in serious danger, and the individual may begin to start gambling even larger amounts of money because of the mounting stress they have over debt and an inability to pay for the things that they need.
#5 Gambling to Recoup Losses
Addiction often works in a cycle, and gambling is no different. People addicted to gambling might find themselves becoming desperate in their quest to win back the money they have lost. The more money they lose, the more this could push them to returning to gambling and attempting to win back their money.
If things become desperate enough, they might even begin to ignore their financial difficulties, their family and friends, and everything else in their life, becoming almost devoted to their addiction and ignoring everyday life. This is when the addiction begins to reach its worst stage, and when people start needing help and support the most.
How To Overcome A Gambling Addiction
There is always help and support available for people struggling with and coming to terms with a gambling addiction. There are both inpatient programmes and outpatient treatment programmes available for people that enable them to either check themselves into a specific treatment centre for a certain period of time, or they can take part in an outpatient programme that enables them to potentially receive help on a part-time basis. This means that they can still keep up with their life commitments, without the treatment getting in the way or preventing them from doing so.
Residential treatment facilities (also known as rehab) are potentially available for people tackling gambling addiction, although many are for drug addiction purposes exclusively, and therefore, it’s best to do extensive research and find a treatment centre that is appropriate.
In any case, the main forms of treatment that people facing a gambling addiction will want to look out for include 12-step programmes and the SMART recovery 4-step programme, as well as general therapy and counselling.
Just like drug addiction, gambling addictions have root causes that can be unearthed and explored with therapy in order to better understand how the addiction formed, and what steps can be taken to avoid relapse in the future.