Getting involved in occasional gambling or betting games can be quite common in our life, but it should not become a habit. Addiction can be defined as irresistible temptation in doing something in spite of the fact that the person knows that it can seriously affect his/her life and relationship. Gambling addiction or gambling disorder or compulsive gambling is the feeling of uncontrollable urge to involve in gambling regardless of the consequences. If you are getting yourself into gambling you may start chasing bets losing all your savings and many times you would borrow funds or take loans and sometimes indulge in stealing money to satisfy your addiction.
Gambling on anything would stimulate your brain and it would have the same effect on you, as alcohol or other substance. Any person who gets attached to gambling will not hesitate to indulge in fraudulent activities to get money. Gambling addiction is (without doubt) a serious condition but with suitable professional help and family support you can get out of it.
Gambling Addiction Symptoms :
The behavior and interest shown by the person of gambling disorder is totally different from that of occasional gambler. Gambling addiction will lead you to take big risks despite of the outcome. He would gain a thrill in taking part of gambling activities. He would be preoccupied with the thoughts about gambling. He would try to recollect his gambling experiences of the past.
In due course, the person would find gambling as reliable source to escape from daily problems of life. He would often take leave from work or find excuses from his family to gamble. This would give him the feelings of guilt and depression. Most of the compulsive gamblers would lie and conceal the results of gambling. He will not hesitate to steal money or borrow funds to gamble. This would cause feeling of remorse and guilt after gambling. Even though he wanted to give up gambling his efforts end up in failing.
Gambling as such will not cause addiction. Not all the people who gamble are compulsive gamblers. There are still plenty of people who spend years on gambling without any addiction. Frequent stress can turn a casual gambler into compulsive gambler in due course. Gambling addicted person will be attending work in his office but his concern would be focused on how to borrow money or how to win the game. Placing big bets and taking increasingly high risks becomes his daily activity. Gambling disorder will force the person to place bets irrespective of the loss since they believe the entire money can be recovered. Casual gamblers will know their limit and stop gambling once they reach the loss limit whereas compulsive gamblers cannot.
Points to Consider :
You need professional help and counseling to stop gambling if the following statement explains your quality.
- Gambling has started affecting your relationships or workplace or finance.
- You have started spending more of your time in gambling activities.
- Have trouble in controlling the urge to gamble.
- You have sincerely tried to stop gambling but all in vain.
- You are telling lies to your family and try to conceal your gambling activities.
- Finally you have started to indulge in fraud or stealing money for the purpose of gambling.
- You feel depressed and guilty after gambling
- You become restless and irritable while trying to cut down gambling.
All the above sentences indicate that gambling has become out of control in your life.
Causes Of Gambling Addiction :
Why some people are enjoying gambling and others have become addicted to it is still not known. Gambling addiction is believed to be caused due to biological, social and genetic factors.
Risk Factors :
Men rather than women are at high risk of getting into addiction to gamble. People with personality disorders, people who are alcoholic or those with substance abuse are at increased risk of developing gambling addiction. Young aged and middle aged people are the right target of gambling addiction. People with family history of gamblers are at risk and people who are basically competitive in nature and those who are restless and workaholic can develop addiction to gambling.
As per the criteria suggested by the DSM of American Psychiatric Association, an individual should have at least 4 of the above said points to be categorized as gambling addicted.
Gambling Addiction Treatment :
It is difficult to treat patients with gambling addiction since most of the people would not accept that they have a problem. Once the person acknowledges his problem gradually it can be treated. Like other diseases, gambling addiction cannot be cured with medications alone. The thought of stopping gambling should come from the heart of the affected person. Usually combined approach of psychotherapy and medications are effective.
Psychotherapy methods like CBT Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are ideal to stop compulsive gambling. Here the psychologist would use systematic exposure technique to develop the skills to control the urge to gamble. This therapy would help in removing unhealthy and negative beliefs about gambling and replace them with positive thoughts. Mood stabilizing and antidepressant drugs are prescribed for people diagnosed with gambling addiction and depression.
Self help groups like Gambling Anonymous offer a great help in treating gambling addiction. Even with the above methods, there is a chance for you to get back to gambling, if you meet and spend time with regular gamblers. Relapse is quite common in treating gambling addiction, but you can reroute your thought by actively participating in other healthy social acts. Join yoga class and practice meditation to strengthen your mind. Do regular exercise and involve in healthy social clubs. It is challenging to find alternate ways to overcome the feelings of guilt and depression without gambling.
Total recovery is possible with family support and will power. Think about the benefits you derive by stopping gambling. You can divert your thoughts in making money in productive ways and in spending quality time with your family. Find happiness in alternative hobbies like mountain biking or hiking that can be challenging for your energy.
You cannot prevent gambling from sheer will power. Tell someone that you need to stop gambling and get help from psychologist and support groups. Avoid gambling in any form and avoid people who go for regular gambling. Gambling addiction can become worse and ruin your relationship if you are not seeking help early.