Gambling is an exciting and enjoyable activity that has been in existence and practiced for centuries. The simple process is that players stake their money on several possible outcomes with the potential of winning extra money. As thrilling as this sounds, it has turned out to mean more than just a game to many. The promise of winning more than you came with can lead to an uncontrollable obsession and can have you hooked to the playing table longer than you should be or can afford to be. This is the point where it becomes obvious that addiction to the game has set in.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
Also known as Ludomania, gambling addiction is an impulsive control disorder that causes a person to continually gamble even after it has become obvious that it hurts them and the people around them. The symptoms differ for different people and can also be dependent on the kind of gambling involved. For most addictive gamblers, it always starts as entertainment that eventually turns into a quick problem after a few ‘little’ wins or one big win. It is a conventional belief that all gambling addicts cannot control their impulse to gamble, but it is a fact that some of them can control it, but the bane of the addiction is when their involvement affects daily activities.
Common Types of Gambling Addiction
A person can be referred to as a compulsive gambler when they are no longer able to control their urge to gamble. It is a condition that defies logic and reasonable limits. It comes with such irresistibility that even in the face of potential harm that can come to their lives, finances, and loved ones, a compulsive gambler goes on to gamble and make huge wagers that he cannot afford to lose and will oftentimes, eventually lose.
Those in this category can keep their gambling under control for a reasonable period, sometimes for months. However, once they step back into the game, there’s almost an adrenaline rush that makes it near impossible for them to stop.
Problem gamblers are those who think so much about betting that even when they try to stop, they still cannot control it. They end up fore-going or disrupting their daily life activities to gamble, an action that often ends up affecting the people around them.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
As opposed to substance addiction, the physical symptoms of gambling addiction are not so conspicuous. This implies that a lot of damage would have been done before attention can be drawn by gamblers. It becomes evident to others that they have a problem. Some may go as far as losing their jobs or crashing their businesses, and for problem and binge gamblers, the signs are usually almost non-existent.
Nevertheless, if anyone begins to show any of the symptoms listed below, there’s a strong chance they have a gambling addiction. Based on the reliable Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person must exhibit a minimum of 4 of these symptoms within a 12-month period to be considered a gambling addict.
- Unrest and agitation when attempting to bring gambling under control.
- Repeated failure in trying to limit or stop gambling altogether.
- Consistent preoccupation with gambling thoughts and devising plans for the next bet.
- Gambling to gain emotional reprieve especially when distressed or depressed.
- Continual attempts to win back lost money by gambling more (also known as loss-chasing).
- Concealing gambling activity from friends and loved ones.
- Experiencing loss in relationships or career because of gambling.
- Asking for money from others to continue gambling.
Although these symptoms are strong indicators of gambling addiction, they are not the same and are not as accurate as a medical diagnosis. If at least 4 of these symptoms have been observed to be exhibited by anyone, a mental health professional should be reached out to. They would be able to determine if the person is suffering from a gambling addiction or another mental health condition. Most gambling addicts commonly suffer from some other disorders like substance use, ADHD, and depression.
Causes of Gambling Addiction
What exactly causes gambling is yet to be determined, but several factors can contribute to gambling addiction like a greedy desire for money and mental health issues.
One of the major causes of gambling addiction, particularly problem gambling, is the reflexive reaction of the brain to betting. Scientific studies have indicated that the brain produces a neurological response to gambling that is similar to when a drug addict takes cocaine. The deficiency of stress hormones, neurotransmitters, and serotonin – the feel-good chemical, also contributes to compulsive gambling. Some other biological causes are found in some people’s genetic make-up, meaning they may naturally be more susceptible to addiction disorders.
The way a person perceives the activity of gambling has a reasonable role to play in whether they would end up with addiction or not. A good example is a concept known as loss-chasing. In itself a symptom of gambling, loss-chasing possesses the ability to drive a gambler to addiction because it makes the gambler blindly hold on to bleak hope for the next bet and the next one after it while the effects of their continual indulgence remain a blind spot that opens the floodgates of true addiction. Therefore, a grotesque perception of gambling is often a major problem for gamblers as they remain optimistic in continual loss and the gradual fading away of the good in their lives.
The arousal that arises from the possibility of winning as many times as possible in fast-paced games can also be predatory. The simple fact that the gaming cycle is quick and is designed to make it appear easier to make a few quick bucks there is enough reason to stay glued and subsequently get addicted. Some others simply get hooked after their first win, especially if it is a massive one.
Obsession for betting becomes the order of the day for these folks, when they bet continually, aiming at winning huge. Some hope to win double by staking twice as much on their winning bet.
Fatigue, lack of employment, and greed for money are primary reasons for irresistible gambling. Obsession towards gambling is a trait young folks can emulate by paying close attention and being exposed to it directly.
Gambling outlets and avenues or having close acquaintance that gambles can sponsor gambling addictions.
Intake of certain medications could elevate the chances of addiction to gambling even if not though not sure. Substances like dopamine agonists and antipsychotic medications are catalysts of this addiction.
Recognizing Gambling Addiction
It takes a long period before these victims are aware of the damages this addiction has caused; most people become aware when damages like huge debts, job loss, etc., ensue. They fall into the arms of the law when they go extra lengths like stealing and indulging in dubious activities to fulfill their gambling desires.
There are specific signs that will manifest before things get worse. These signs would enable you easily detect if you’re addicted to gambling and need to see a therapist.
The first step is to spot and acknowledge that it’s an issue once you see any of these signs highlighted above. Many people don’t like to admit they have an addiction, even when obvious. Once you notice you’re getting obsessed or people are taking note of this particular matter, you should seek a way out.
Most times, people with this addiction generalize circumstances around this issue and make it seem like they can deal with it. Most gamblers can’t withdraw, and life eventually becomes difficult or messed up. Although, they try to cover up for their deficiency.
Bernie’s top 6 advice for responsible gambling
1: Know what you are gambling with
You should be gambling to relax and have a good time. Don’t go to the table while feeling angry or agitated – and never gamble while affected by alcohol or drugs!
2: Stick to a budget
The key to more wins and less worry is to set a budget before starting to gamble. Bring a realistic amount to the table and call it a night when the money is finished!
3: Remember the house always wins
It’s a thrill when you win, but it won’t always happen that way. The mathematical advantage of a casino game is always on the house, so have fun and prepare for losses.
4: Set a time limit
In the same way that you should stick to a budget, you should also set a time limit to your gambling sessions. When gambling, time can fly!
5: Take a break
At times one can feel sucked in by gambling, so much so that it takes focus. There are several opportunities to block yourself from online gambling sites for longer or shorter periods of time, depending on your needs. Take a pause and return in good spirits!
6: Seek counselling
If you are worried about the gambling behaviour of yourself or a loved one, you can seek counselling through the customer service of the UK licensed casinos, or by contacting Gambling Therapy. It is also possible to take online tests to give you an overview of your gambling behaviour.
Self-help Strategies for Gambling Problems
The first step is an awareness that you’ve got an issue; making further moves to come out of the issue will follow suit. Certain actions can be taken to help one’s self-becoming better and conquer this addiction.
- Get yourself occupied with activities that give you the same pleasure and peace you derive from gambling. You must be able to find fun in these activities, for example, swimming, watching movies, etc.
- You must seek other better ways of relaxing or escaping from stress if you find betting as an avenue for those. Seek other avenues to relax your emotions and catch fun.
- Gambling could be an avenue for socializing and making new friends. These could also be achieved by playing sports, joining a club, or skating.
- Trying to fight addiction alone can be difficult, as any other addiction but with the aid of people around like family, friends it could reduce the difficulties and increase the chances of overcoming quickly. They would guide your actions and limit your exposure to gambling.
- Redirect Your Activities. Victims in these situations mostly have a way of living that makes them go back to their old ways despite the efforts they put in. They could be surrounded by people who bet or have certain times set aside that permit them to indulge in this action. By getting busy or getting something else to do when free and moving with new people, and getting new friends, one can be distracted from gambling. To get acquainted with new people, you could try reaching out to co-workers at work, joining a book club, sports team, or NGO. Writing a book in which you could also earn as a publisher, learning a new instrument, traveling, or learning to program are some engagements that can divert you from gambling.
- Peer support groups. These are a group of persons who share the same challenge and aim at achieving rehab from the addiction. They have also passed through and conquered gambling addictions. This kind of person can teach you how to do the same. For instance, Gambler Anonymous offers a 12-step recovery program for victims that want to be liberated from this obsession.
Treatment for Gambling Addiction
Ending the cycle of gambling addiction is impossible. Certain prescriptions are available for compulsive and problem gamblers. No specific treatment has been discovered for gambling; nevertheless, these methods can be applied.
Psychotherapy has helped dissolve gambling addictions for a long time and even ensures that the victim doesn’t return to gambling. Counseling would have a good effect when the affected is subjected to a proficient therapist or psychiatrist. This is most effective when this addiction is sponsored by psychiatric-related problems. Both conditions would be dealt with efficiently.
The urge to frequently gamble betting or visit betting centers can simply be reduced by the intake of certain medications. Antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs are highly recommended for gamblers.
Prevalence of Gambling Addiction
It could be quite tasking to capture the number of people with gambling pressures with the record of gamblers coming from them themselves.
3% of people in Canada are under the influence of gambling addictions which sums up to around 1.1 million citizens suffering from gambling addictions. Similar in the U.S.A, 2-3% of citizens are gamblers. Only close to 1% of the population is addicted to gambling. It is very high in places like Nevada where gambling is cultured as a rite of passage in the UK. The number rises higher in the UK. Up to 2.7 of adults in the UK which translates to 1.4 million people are suffering from gambling and this according to a survey by YouGov. These figures are a round-up and not certain because the UK Gambling Commission states the record to be at 0.7%.
Based on the results from the research, it can be concluded that men are more likely to become gambling addicts than women. Although there are lots of methods to treat gambling addiction nowadays, yet men seem to be disinterested in utilizing these resources. Some of these men may eventually overcome their gambling addictions through healthy means. However, others refuse to seek help, making no effort whatsoever to quit and eventually losing years in the process.
Effects of Gambling Addiction
It is known from research that both long and short-term effects of gambling exist. A fraction of these effects are conspicuous, while others aren’t.
Most times, people who are addicted to gambling often get into serious financial crises. They tow this path for long till they eventually gamble their homes and lose their assets. There is a point where gambling becomes compulsive; at this point, the loss is colossal – some even tend to lose their families too. Gamblers also get into lots of mess with the law; they could serve jail time as a result of staking investors’ funds or their jobs.
Betting disrupts the normal thinking process for gamblers, eventually leading to psychological and mental issues if done constantly. Gamblers often face social problems and issues with relationships. Other conditions could arise from gambling; some of which include suicide, anxiety, and depression.
Families of compulsive gamblers are affected by these compulsive effects of gambling. Research shows that there is a high rate of domestic violence and abuse on children with gambling parents than others. These children are also more likely to develop other mental health conditions and addictions later on in their lives.
How to Help Someone with Gambling Problems or Addiction
Most times, detecting gambling addiction in a family member might be difficult because of its masking nature. In problem gamblers, it takes a long time before it is discovered and by then, they are deeply hooked. These are some signs that will help you know when gambling starts to become problematic:
- More money is spent on gambling.
- Coming out plainly to say that one has a gambling problem.
- Spending less time trying to build relationships but more time thinking and planning about gambling.
- Giving large sums of money to betting even with unsettled bills.
- Lying about the habit.
- Selling their properties or borrowing money unjustifiably to prosecute gambling. This is an alarm sign that should be curbed or attended to immediately.
All the signs stated here indicate the presence of a problem. When you discover that your loved one or friend has any of these signs, don’t mock or ridicule them; instead, proffer a lasting solution. Also, note that threatening them won’t cause them to stop, but it will make them hide further acts from you.
When you detect these signs, your next step of action is to equip yourself with the needed information. In practical terms, make sure you support them to overcome their addiction, then ensure you stay off from helping them clear their bills. If you want to help them, be a part of their treatment process, and connect them with a financial service to help them settle their debts.
Helping Someone with a Gambling Addiction Seek Treatment
Trying to help a family friend overcome a gambling addiction seek treatment could be tough, except the individual decides to break free by themselves. To get most gambling addicts to the point of conviction for a change, it is best to let them see how it has affected their lives.
While you are concerned about their gambling behavior, you should also stay loving and optimistic during the change process. An effective way to help gamblers is by constant confrontation with loved ones and more family members.
Professionals that help gamblers out of this addiction are also available. You could use professional helplines to help seek guidance and provide the right advice on how to handle the gambling problem. One such organization is the National Problem Gambling Network (800-522-4700).
Stopping Suicide in People with Gambling Addiction
Most gamblers tend to be suicidal. At any point, you discover that you’re getting suicidal, or a loved one who is addicted to gambling is feeling this way, call a suicidal helpline fast. Listed below are helplines of trusted national organizations for suicide prevention in highlighted countries.
- Netherlands – 113 Suicide Prevention (113 and 0800 – 0113)
- UK – Samaritans UK (+44 (0) 20 8394 8300)
- Australia – Lifeline Australia (13 11 14)
- USA – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
- Canada – Canada Suicide Prevention Suicide (1.833.456.4566)
Gambling Addiction Resources in Netherlands
Current statistics show that the Netherlands has about 166 legal casinos in its 94 cities; that is about two casinos to one city. The rate of gambling addiction in the Netherlands is relatively high, and experts are tempted to call it a ‘Narco’ city.
A random google search for gambling addiction resource centers in the Netherlands may not readily bring up a good list of these centers in the Netherlands. However, we have been able t0 highlight a list of trusted gambling addiction resources to help with problem gambling. Check these out:
- New Life Treatment Center: Treating gambling addictions has lots to do with psychology and perception, which are the key focus points of the New Life Treatment Center. The center runs a 30-45day program for addicts and carries out the rehabilitation process in a homely environment. The agenda of the center is to help addicts on the way to their recovery, attain an understanding of their dependence and wean them off chemical dependence. During the program, clients would need to cover 1-5 steps of the 12-stage AA program.
- Sanford Hospital Luverne Program: This program runs as an outpatient program, and it is designed to help people out of dependency and abuse. In this program, you don’t need to leave your family or loved ones while you rehab. It permits clients who have the discipline to stay off drugs, gambling, and alcohol for short periods to participate. The duration of time for abstinence is between 1-3days. For those who have a job by the side, you will find this program helpful, easy, and useful.
- Holland Community Hospital Gambling Addiction Treatment: This center or hospital is located in the city of Holland. It offers detoxification, gambling, and substance addiction treatments. It also provides mental health services and drug rehabilitation, with the program running as an outpatient type. This center has a great deal of expert treatment for compulsive gambling treatment and is highly recommended for ready quitters.
- Yes, We Can Youth Clinic: Found in Hilvarenbeek, Netherland, is a rehabilitation center for addictive and compulsive behavior, especially for young adults. Although the idea of this age group coming down with gambling addiction and other addictive behaviors might seem absurd, however, it does exist. The program offered by the clinic is a 10-week program where close to 20 clients can be attended to at the given time window. The treatment for addictive behaviors employed varies from talk therapy and trauma processing to emotion regulation and psychiatry consultations.
Other Gambling Addiction Resources
In addition to the above, many organizations currently provide help and support to gambling addicts around the world. These organizations are equipped with the right skills and offer therapies in various ways. Some of their services include group discussions with people going through the same addiction, psychotherapy, counseling, and medications in some cases.
There are lots of helpful organizations that treat gambling; however, here is a list of trusted gambling centers you can visit:
- The National Council on Problem Gambling– In 11972, Joseph Dunne, Irvin Sacher, and Robert Custer founded this center. The NCPG has grown to become a front liner in the advocacy for problem gamblers; It focuses on helping addicts get over gambling addiction fast.
- Addiction Center: Addiction Center was founded in 2014 and has rendered guidance and assistance to those affected by mental disorders, gambling addiction inclusive. Owned by Recovery Worldwide, Addiction Center serves as the go-between for treatment solutions and gamblers. They offer rehab placement, financial solutions, and counseling services to those who need help.
- Responsible Gambling Council: This organization has been successful in helping gambling addicts get out of their addictions over the years and can be trusted. They reduce gambling risks through innovation, awareness, and discovery; they show a great deal of dedication to this cause. Reach out to them here (+1 (416) 499-9800)
- Gamblers Anonymous: founded in 1957, Gamblers Anonymous stands as the oldest resource dedicated to giving the needed help to gambling addicts who need it. Functioning through local groups, the organization has consistently provided all-around assistance for gamblers and their families too.