What is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is an ‘impulse-control disorder’, a serious illness that affects people from all walks of life. Sometimes known as compulsive gambling, pathological gambling or gambling disorder, it’s defined as a situation in which a player loses control over their urge to gamble, becoming reliant on gambling despite the issues it might be causing to them personally. These issues tend to include finances, with many gambling addicts facing financial ruin, as well as relationships and mental health.
As with all addictions, problem gambling comes in varying degrees. Initially players may still have some control over whether or not they gamble, but this control lessens as the addiction develops. In extreme cases, players may feel they have no choice but to gamble. This is quite often linked to a financial crisis, in which a player feels they have no other way of paying off debts caused by gambling, than by continuing to gamble. Very severe gambling addictions have been linked to suicide, as players begin to feel as though they have no other way out, so it’s important to get ahead of the issue and look out for the signs.
Types of Gambling Addiction
There is no ‘one size fits all’ set of symptoms when it comes to gambling addiction, but there are a few things that casino players can look out for. Compulsive gambling can present itself in many different ways and can cause a range of problems for those that are affected. The following diagnostic criteria give some insight into the main types of gambling addiction.
A player who has tried to stop gambling, but has been unsuccessful, is said to have impaired control. These players may become preoccupied with playing for real money or may start to gamble more and more to chase a certain level of excitement. They may feel irritable and frustrated when not gambling.
A player who lies to cover up the amount of time or money they spend on gambling is classified as a social impairment gambler. These players may have already begun to cause problems in their relationships, and they may find themselves missing out on opportunities in their work/personal lives. They may begin to rely on friends and family financially, setting the wheels in motion for relationship breakdowns.
Gamblers who turn to games when stressed or under pressure are called ‘risky use’ players. They may find themselves unable to stop gambling, looking to gambling as their only way of making back money that has been lost over time.
Players may exhibit signs and symptoms spanning several of these categories, or they may show signs of just one. To diagnose an addiction, physicians examine a patient, looking at all of these signs in unison. Severe gambling addictions will often incorporate elements from all three types of diagnostic criteria.
The Cause and Effects of Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction can be fatal, but it doesn’t affect everyone. The reason why some players encounter problems with gambling, while others don’t, isn’t yet completely understood but the theory behind it is really interesting. Gambling addictions are often the result of a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors. The risk factors associated with problem gambling include mental health disorders, age, sex, peer group pressure/influence, some medications and certain personality traits.
Compulsive gambling is often a problem for the people around the person affected, as well as the player themselves. Friends and family of those suffering from a gambling addiction tend to report problems with relationship breakdowns, and damage to trust. In addition, problem gamblers often face financial crises, as they often borrow money to fund their habit, perform poorly at work and sometimes even lose their jobs. General health tends to suffer as a result of a reliance on gambling too, and many players will encounter mental health disorders such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
9 Signs of Gambling Addiction
- Being preoccupied with gambling, and thinking about little else
- Spending more money on gambling to achieve the same enjoyment
- Being unable to cut back on gambling
- Feeling frustrated and ill-tempered when not gambling
- Using gambling to combat anxiety or stress
- Thinking of gambling as a way to ease depression
- Lying about the amount of money or time spent gambling
- Causing damage to relationships as a result of gambling
- Relying on others for money due to gambling losses
How to Help with Gambling Addiction
There is a certain amount of stigma attached to compulsive gambling, but a gambling addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. Compulsive gambling is treatable, and there is plenty of help available to assist players, should they find themselves in a difficult situation as a result of reliance on gambling. If you, or someone you care about is struggling with problem gambling, it’s vital that help is sought immediately. There are many types of help available, including:
- Step-based programmes
- Support groups
- One-on-one therapy
Gambling Addiction Therapy & Helplines in India
Self-supporting group for those affected by problem gambling, providing opportunities for sufferers to share experiences, strength and hope.
A collection of addiction treatment centres across India. DeAddiction Centres offer a range of treatment plans for gambling addiction.
Range of treatment plans and holistic therapies specifically designed for gambling addiction sufferers.
Residential rehab treatment for gambling addiction. Helps to rebuild lives and relationships damaged by addiction.
0800 0322 880 (24-hour helpline)
How to Prevent Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction can be devastating, causing huge amounts of damage to a person’s finances, relationships, career and self-esteem. However, the destructive effects of addiction are preventable. In order to avoid compulsive gambling, it’s crucial that all players fully understand the symptoms of an addiction. Players should be aware of the warning signs and know how to recognise a growing problem. It’s also important that players know where to get support and advice if they do find themselves struggling with an addiction to gambling.
Gambling is entertaining, and many people gamble just for fun. Should players start to look at gambling as a way to earn money for rent/food/bills, then it starts to become problematic. If you or someone you know develops a dependency on gambling, take a look at the resources above and seek help.