For over a thousand years, gambling has been a means of entertainment. You can place a bet on various outcomes and win some extra cash. However, a lot now see gambling as a need or necessity, thus forfeiting the main aim of gambling, which is to be entertained.
Naturally, gambling entertains the player first but soon becomes a problem as soon as the player hits a big win. This is especially the case for people who don’t know how to gable responsibly. Now, many people have become so obsessed with the game only because of the promising wins in the game. With time, they are unable to keep their gaming habits under control, and eventually, they become addicted to the game. This is the dangerous part of gambling for the players and even those around them.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
Ludomania, another name for gambling addiction, is a disorder that makes a person continue gambling even when it takes a toll on them or the people around them negatively. This disorder is known as Impulse Control Disorder. However, different people exhibit different signs of gambling addiction, depending on the type of gambling they embark on.
Although not all gamblers cannot control their urge to gamble, if your gaming habit affects your day-to-day activities, you are addicted to gambling.
Common Types of Gambling Addiction
There are various types of gambling addiction, but we will discuss some common ones;
This type of gambling addiction is also known as pathological gambling, and it is the inability of a gambler to resist the urge to gamble. Such gamblers are always pushed beyond their limits to gamble. You would see them always gambling even when they are negatively affected by the gambling. They don’t care about the fact that a lot of things are being affected; they just want to gamble.
This type of gambler thinks about betting all the time, thus forfeiting their normal day-to-day activities in the process. Eventually, their betting habits cannot be controlled, affecting them and the ones around them.
This type of gambling addiction is like compulsive gambling but with a little bit of control. These gamblers can stop gambling for a period but would not be able to keep their gaming habits under control, and they resume betting again. Once they begin betting again, it will be difficult for anyone to stop them from gambling.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Gamnling addiction symptoms are not so obvious; that is, many gamblers will gamble till they lose their jobs without even knowing it. They will then begin to experience some problems concerning finances. However, we will like to discuss some signs that show that you might be addicted to gambling.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) reports that for someone to be considered an addict, he must have exhibited a minimum of 4 of these signs for a period of 12 months. See the signs below;
- Anxiety and discomfort whenever they try to stop gambling or put their gambling habits under control.
- They fail to stop gambling whenever they try to stop, control, or reduce the rate of gambling.
- Their thoughts are filled with gambling and how to go about the next gambling event.
- They also try to recover the money they have lost to gambling by engaging more in gambling.
- Lying and hiding their gambling activities from friends and those around them
- These gambling activities will also cause them to lose their job and some relationships.
- Asking for money to gamble
- Using gambling as an emotional validation for being anxious or depressed.
However, all these symptoms shouldn’t replace the need to go for a medical checkup. If you observe any four of the above symptoms, kindly visit a medical practitioner specializing in mental health.
For instance, a psychiatrist will easily tell from the symptoms you exhibit if you suffer from a gambling addiction or suffer from other mental illnesses. Various other mental disorders have the same symptoms as a gambling addiction. They include ADHD, drug use disorder, bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, and many more.
Causes of Gambling Addiction
A lot of factors can cause gambling addiction; gambling addiction is not associated with a particular factor. The reasons for gambling addiction may range from desperation for money to mental disorders and many more. however, each of the causes of gambling addiction can be found under the following groups;
Naturally, the brain reacts to winning a bet. According to scientific research, a neurological reaction is sent to the brain whenever you win a bet. Therefore this may be a major cause of addiction in betting.
Another found cause of gambling addiction is deficiencies in some chemicals and hormones in the body. Serotonin is known for making one feel good, while norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter and a stress hormone. When these two substances malfunction in the body, then the person may experience compulsive gambling addiction. Some other causes may be genetically related, however.
The mindset of an individual about gambling may also play a role. Loss-chasing, in which the gambler hopes to win his next bet, may eventually lead to addiction. In the process, they tend to deny the effect of their gambling habits on them, and then they get more involved in their gambling activities, thus leading to addiction. Naturally, such people are optimistic that they will win even as they continue losing their bets.
In addition, the excitement of winning a lot playing a slot game can make an individual develop some gambling habits that may lead to addiction. This type of problem is common to gamblers who prefer slot games to other fast-paced games.
Besides, some individuals are also fascinated by their wins and want to repeat such feat. This happens especially if their first win is massive, and they hope to get more massive wins like the first. Some even try to double their wins in the process, and they eventually get addicted to gambling, because winning in gambling is not a sure thing and is solely dependent on luck.
Although medications may less likely cause addictions, some medications have been found to increase the rate of addiction. For instance, dopamine and other antipsychotic medications have been found to increase the rate of gambling.
There are lots of circumstances that surround us that may cause an individual to resort to gambling. Job loss, desperation for money, stress, depression, and so on are a cause of compulsive gambling addictions.
Gambling addictions can also be passed on to the younger generations or family members through direct influence or teaching. Having friends that frequently engage in gambling activities can also trigger gambling addictions in an individual.
Recognizing Gambling Addiction
The major problem with gamblers is that they wouldn’t know they are addicted until it is late. They would have gone deep into debts or something worse like getting involved in criminal activity to get money to gamble before realizing it. However, symptoms would have been exhibited even before this stage; therefore, you can know if an individual is suffering from addiction already and may need some medical attention.
As soon as you observe that you exhibit any of the above-listed symptoms, the first thing to do is admit that you are suffering from addiction. Quite a lot of gamblers deny the fact that they are getting addicted to gambling. However, if you think you are suffering from addiction or your loved ones and those around you are worried about your gambling habit, you should probably consider getting some help.
In some cases, gamblers try to justify their gambling activities so that it may seem as if they have their gambling habit under control. However, compulsive gamblers will always exhibit the addiction symptoms, no matter what, while the problem gamblers will only withdraw from gambling for a while and return to gambling later, making it more difficult for them to withdraw again.
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 towards overcoming a gambling addiction is to first admit that you are suffering from gambling addiction, then you can start working towards getting over the addiction. We will give you some tips that can help you get over your gambling addiction by yourself. These self-help tips will help you to be free from addiction for life.
See them below;
- Occupy yourself with other entertaining activities that will give you the thrills that you would get from gambling activities. These activities should also be something you derive fun from. An example is video games, football, or movies.
- If your reason for gambling is to relieve you of stress or boredom, you can seek other better and healthier means of managing stress.
- Some people engage in gambling activities so that they can meet new people. However, other activities will make you meet new people. You can join a club, or buy a ticket for a game or even exercise.
- Overcoming addiction on your own can be a very difficult challenge; therefore, you may need some support from friends, family, and other support networks.
- You can also try to turn your focus away from gambling to some other better activities. People battling addiction usually find themselves living a degenerated lifestyle. Some may have a set time to gamble in a day or even have friends who gamble. However, if you want to overcome addiction, you may need to make new friends who don’t engage in gambling or use your free time to engage in other activities. For instance, you can make new friends at your workplace or engage in activities like writing a book, learning to program, or learning a new musical instrument.
- Find a peer support group. There are support groups that help individuals with some mental conditions. You will get the necessary support you need to overcome addiction because the group consists of people that have experienced addiction at a point and have overcome it. You will learn how they have overcome them, and you can also be free from addiction.
Treatment for Gambling Addiction
No matter how hard it may be, quitting gambling is 100% possible. You just have to be taken through the right recovery process. However, there is no approved solution for gambling addiction. However, the following methods can help in recovering.
Psychotherapy has proven to be a very effective way of helping one overcome his gambling addictions. A well-trained psychotherapist will help determine the best way to help an addicted gambler overcome his addictions and thus help him improve his gambling habits and lifestyle. Peradventure, the individual has another mental condition that triggers his gambling habits, then psychotherapy will be the best option for him.
Some medication may help to reduce the urge to visit a slot game house or an online betting site. Anti-seizure and antidepressants also help overcome gambling addiction.
Prevalence of Gambling Addiction
We cannot categorically say the exact numbers of gamblers that are suffering from addiction since the majority of the official report are those who admit that they are addicted. In the United States, reports have it that only 2 to 3% of the population have a problem gambling, and 1% is suffering from gambling addiction. Gambling is prevalent in areas like Nevada, where gambling has been imbibed like their culture. In Canada, about 1.1 million people are suffering from gambling addiction, making up about 3% of the population.
However, in the United Kingdom, where the gambling addiction rate seems to be higher, about 1.4 million adults suffer from gambling addiction. This is about 2.7% of the population, according to statistics made by YouGov. However, these figures remain unofficial as the official figure still pegs at 0.7%, according to UK Gambling Commission.
However, of all these figures, men took more than half of the population of gambling addicts. This implies that men experience gambling addiction more than women. Unfortunately, many people suffering from gambling addiction do not seek treatment or help from support groups. Some recover from their addiction by themselves or with help from family and loved ones, thus changing their lifestyle and behavior. On the other hand, some continue even deeper into their gambling habits without making efforts to change their lifestyle. They eventually lose years of their lives to gambling.
Effects of Gambling Addiction
Gambling may take a negative toll on an individual, and it may be short-term or long-term. Some of these effects are visible to the eyes, while some are not so obvious. See some of them below;
Most of the time, people who are addicted to gambling are usually left in a financial mess. They can go to the length of borrowing large amounts of money and accruing large debts. Some even go to the extent of using their landed assets and other assets as collateral for gambling.
In the case of compulsive gamblers, they wouldn’t just put their finances into jeopardy but also of their loved ones, friends, and colleagues. Compulsive gamblers can even gamble with their job or some investors’ funds, leading to legal actions against them.
Perpetual betting will lead to psychological and mental disorders. This mental disorder affects the way such individual thinks. This may therefore lead to broken relationships and other social problems. Other mental problems may also arise from gambling addiction. These mental disorders include anxiety, suicide, and depression.
Gambling addiction has resulted in broken family relationships. Reports had it that some children have suffered child abuse and other forms of violence from parents who are gambling addicts. These children are also probably taught to be gambling addicts in the process.
How to Help Someone With Gambling Problems or Addiction
Before you can help a gambling addict, you must have observed that he is indeed addicted. But this may be a difficult task, especially for problem gamblers, because those close to him may not even notice. However, below are some of the signs you should watch out for;
- Outrightly saying that they are addicted
- Spending the majority of their time and money gambling
- Denying their gambling habits
- Selling of assets or borrowing money for unknown reasons, especially if the person is known to be a gambler.
- Prioritizing gambling over important bills
- Their thoughts are filled with plans for gambling. They would care less about their relationships.
Once you observe any of these signs, you should know that there is a problem. The best thing you can do for them is to support them. Do not judge or mock them, as this will not help them overcome their gambling habits. Don’t also threaten them because all of these will only make them hide their gambling activities from you.
Just get enough educational resources, and educate them to overcome their gambling addictions. However, do not try to help them pay off their debts or offer them financial assistance as this may probably spur them on to continue in their gambling activities. Rather, you can find them professional peer support groups that will help them recover from their gambling addiction and probably help them settle their dues.
Helping Someone with a Gambling Addiction Seek Treatment
Unless a gambling addict decides to seek treatment and has the resources to achieve this, it might be quite difficult for those around him to help him out. However, it may help in some cases to speak to such a person about how their day-to-day activities have been affected by gambling. It may also help to convince them to go for treatment.
You don’t have to castigate them for their behavior, but rather be loving and positive around them. You can also get his family members and friends who can get in touch with him frequently to make his recovery more effective. However, we should not neglect that seeking help from a professional psychiatrist or a professional support group could be the most effective way to help a gambling addict. You need to speak to a professional so that you can be advised on how best to handle someone who is battling a gambling addiction. You can also contact professional organizations through their helplines. For instance, you can reach the CNWL National Problem Gambling in UK at 08000234650.
Stopping Suicide In People With Gambling Addiction
A lot of gambling addicts, especially compulsive gamblers, resort to suicide in the long run. However, if you think of committing suicide, or you observe that someone close to you feels so depressed or sad, then you should quickly call the suicidal helplines. One of the ways you would know that someone may be considering suicide is when the person avoids meetings and get-togethers.
When you notice such behavior, quickly reach out to the following numbers according to their countries;
- Samaritans UK: +44 (0) 20-8394-8300
- Canada Suicide Prevention Suicide: 1-833-456-4566
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Lifeline Australia: 13-11-14
Gambling Addiction Resources in the UK
There are a lot of resources out therein the UK that will help you overcome your gambling addiction. These resources are offered by organizations that help individuals to overcome their gambling addiction. It may be organizing a group of people who have suffered the same conditions to meet with them, medications, psychotherapy, or counseling. The perfect treatment for you is best decided by the organization. However, listed below are some of the organizations that will offer you the most reliable resources based in the UK;
- GamAnonUK(gamanon.org.uk): This organization offers assistance to those experiencing gambling problems in the UK. They also help rebuild the individual’s lifestyle by suggesting solutions and encouragement such individuals. You can check out the website of this body for meeting venues close to you.
- Cygnet Health Care(www.cygnethealth.co.uk): Established in 1988, this organization specializes in delivering health services to individuals with mental conditions in the UK. You can reach them on 01217288111
- CNWL National Problem Gambling(www.cnwl.NHS.UK): This organization offers home treatment for individuals battling some mental health conditions, including gambling addiction. You can contact them on 08000234650
- Gambler Anonymous(www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk): This organization has been in the business of helping gambling addicts for a long time. It was established in 1957 and has been ever supportive of gamblers all over the world including in the UK, that want to overcome their addictions together with their families. This is an association of gambling addicts, both men, and women, who have overcome their gambling addiction and are now willing to help others overcome their compulsive gambling addiction.
- Gordon House Association(www.gordonmoody.org.uk): This charity house, established in 1971, is dedicated to helping individuals rebuild their healthy lifestyles by providing counseling and effective therapy session for them.
Other Gambling Addiction Resources
In addition to the options covered above, there are gambling resources that are not specific to the UK. You can also reach out to any of them for help. Some of these include:
- Addiction Center(www.addictioncenter.com): This organization was owned by Recovery Worldwide and established in 2014. They have helped tons of individuals suffering from addictions and other mental conditions. This organization links a gambling addict to a well-known rehab center where they can get help. They collaborate with rehab centers to give financial solutions and counseling to gambling addicts who need help.
- The National Council on Problem Gambling(www.ncpgambling.org/): The NCP was founded by Robert Custer, Irving Sacher, and Joseph Dunne in 1972. This organization has now become a support group for problem gamblers and has been so effective in helping gamblers overcome their addictions. They also provide guides that help individuals get the right treatment for their addictions.
- Responsible Gambling Council(www.responsiblegambling.org): This organization is dedicated to helping gamblers through innovation, research, and awareness. If you need help and resources, you can contact them on +1 (416) 499 9800