Gambling has become a nationwide addiction. Problem gambling, otherwise known as ludomania, is one’s urge to gamble not caring about any consequences or having any desire to stop. Problem gambling is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others. In most compulsive gamblers, harm in one way or another is always experienced for both the gambler and others. Problem gambling is the first stage of a gambling addiction, very easily and most often suddenly progressing to pathological gambling. Pathological gambling can cause one to go into many manic episodes, causing harm on one’s self and upon others as well.
A gambling addiction can be spotted through varies symptoms that manifest in the addict.
Preoccupation with Thoughts About Gambling and Loss of Control Over Behaviors
Usually the addict will become preoccupied with thoughts surrounding gambling and ways to obtain many to engage in his addiction. He is haunted by frequent thoughts revolving around his past, present and future gambling experiences. This can become all he talks about with others because the obsession is so strong.
The inability to stop or cut back on gambling is a sign of a gambling addiction. If the gambler says he is going to cut back and honestly makes an effort with little to no success, this can be a big red flag.
Tolerance to Gambling and Withdrawals
The addict will most likely have to wager more and more money each time he engages in his gambling addiction in order to get the same rush that he got in the beginning. This is a common sign of any addiction, and occurs in gamblers as well, writes casinos-singapore.com website.
In many cases the gambler will become angry, restless and irritable when he takes time off from gambling, or when something or someone gets in the way of his gambling routine. This is known as a withdrawal effect.
Lying to Cover Up Gambling Behavior and Jeopordizing Relationships
When someone begins to lie and be deceptive about his gambling behavior, it is usually because he feels shame and remorse around his actions. This feeling of guilt can be a common sign of a gambling addiction.
If loved ones give the problem gambler an ultimatum regarding his gambling, threatening to end the relationship if he doesn’t stop, and he still continues to gamble despite these circumstances, it shows that he probably has no control of his gambling.
Frequently Borrowing Money/ Acting Out Illegally
When the suspected addict is continuing to go to family members and friends asking to borrow money, this could be a sign of a gambling problem.
Committing crimes in order to obtain money to gamble or pay off gambling debts is a sign that his gambling is getting out of control. Run-ins with the police, finding stashes of money around the house or having to bail him out of jail shows that something is wrong and his gambling is getting out of control.
Consequences of a Gambling Addiction
When one becomes in debt as a result of gambling he/she may start to seek out money using any resources possible, entertaining ideas about stealing or sometimes selling drugs for money. One usually engages in these acts in a last ditch-effort to engage in his addiction. A gambler who does not receive the proper treatment may turn to suicide for an escape from their addiction. This kind of behavior would be considered self abuse. Abuse is also common in the gambler’s household. This kind of addiction could lead to bigger problems for the people he is closest to in such a situation. Growing up in this kind of environment can lead to improper emotional developments and even the possibility of a young one picking up on the addiction as he gets older.
A gambling addiction is a serious problem, and if it is suspected it should be addressed immediately. There are many psychological and physical aspects to the disease of addiction, and they need to be treated by professionals who are experienced addiction counselors. There is a large selection of help available for the gambling addict. Talk to a doctor immediately to get help.
How Gambling Addictions Affect Physical and Mental Health
When gambling turns into a full blown addiction, it is not only the life of the gambler that eventually descends into chaos, but also the lives of those close to the addict. Behind every addiction, whether it be alcohol, sex, narcotics, food or gambling, exists an enormous amount of a pain, which must be dealt with in order for the addict to find and maintain recovery.
Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
There are many different signs, symptoms and characteristics associated with problem gambling and gambling addiction. In Overcoming Gambling, Mawer (2010) highlights key telltale signs to help partners and friends recognize problem gambling, to include the following:
- appears distant and almost unaware of your presence
- seems to lack concentration or interest in conversation
- surprising mood swings on returning home
- never seems to have enough money, even for basics
- money suddenly appears with unexpected gifts, nights out, holidays
- frequent excuses to run errands, get out of the home
- loss of interest in sex and/or trouble sleeping
- often online, appears irritated if interrupted
- small pens in his pockets
- hides bank statements/credit card statements
- unexplained debits or credits
An addiction to gambling may result in the addict being affected in the following ways:
- physical exhaustion
- poor sleep
- weight gain
- high blood pressure
- excessive alcohol intake
How Problem Gambling Affects Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being
As with all other forms of addiction, an addiction to gambling is often linked to other mental health issues. For example, many treatment centres offering help for gambling addicts, recognise that underneath addiction are often mental health problems such as depression. The stress and feelings of failure associated with losing vast sums of money can lead the addict to contemplate suicide. In addition, the significant amount of time spent away from the home feeding the gambling addiction, results in the addict becoming extremely isolated.
One of the major risk factors for depression is social isolation, making likely that the gambling addict will suffer from mood swings and struggle to maintain relationships. According to research studies undertaken at Massachusetts General Hospital, gambling appears to cause a similar brain response to morphine, so it is easy to see why losses negatively affect the addict’s emotional well-being.