What Is Gambling Addiction?

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Are unhealthy habits and obsessions consuming every thought in your mind? Addiction is a severe issue that asks for immediate help. The first step towards recovery is to admit you have the problem in the first place. There is hope for addicts — they just have to reach out for help.

The Introduction to Addiction

What is the catch about becoming addicted? It’s not the alcohol, gambling, or drugs to blame for the problem we have. One glass of wine per day is actually recommended by doctors. A visit to the local casino can bring you excitement, new experiences, and even some big winnings. The vast majority of people incorporate all these things in their everyday lives and never get addicted. But alas, among them, there’s also a group of people with great potential for developing a life-threatening addiction. And drug addiction, alcoholism, and compulsive gambling are the biggest and the most infamous three.

Gambling addiction is also called the “deadly” one because unlike substance abuse or alcohol addiction, 50% of people suffering from it try to commit suicide. It is tricky to detect a gambler with a problem since they tend to keep their habits a secret, and there are no physical side effects of the problem.

What Is Gambling?

In order to discuss the topic of gambling addiction, we first need to define the term ‘gambling.’ If an event contains three main elements — risk(chance), consideration, and a prize, and starts with a ‘stake’ (money or any other valuable assets) placed on an action with an uncertain outcome where the only intent is to win a prize, then it is a gambling activity.

Gambling is as old as humankind. Games of fortune and chance were everywhere — from ancient Greece and the Roman Empire to Egypt and China. And at its beginnings, it was created with the purpose of entertaining the broad masses or even working around some laws and the state’s tax systems. Nowadays, gambling is available in many casinos, both worldwide and online. Moreover, entire cities were built for entertainment and gambling, like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Monaco, etc. As for the online casinos, the only two things you need are Internet access and a device like a PC, laptop, mobile phone, or even a tablet, and only seconds divide you from the sparkling, charming, and hypnotizing world of online casinos. We have absolutely nothing against some quality time spent over there.

However, there is an enormous difference between responsible and healthy gambling habits and destructive, compulsive gambling behaviour. It is crucial to separate these two types because there is no need for us to judge people who enjoy enrolling in some quality casino games for fun. Although, you need to understand one simple fact — casinos don’t make addicts — individuals themselves are the only ones responsible for that. Well, it’s not as if they deliberately wish to become addicts. This statement goes so much deeper than that. The trigger for addiction is usually some situation in life which people cannot easily overcome, so they turn to something they would typically enjoy but instead become obsessed with it. Some people turn to overeating, stalking their ex-partners, smoking cigarettes, etc. However, the addiction type depends on individual preferences.

Common Signs

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People often connect gambling problems with money or property loss. There’s an urban myth circling around that a person doesn’t even have a problem if they can afford to gamble. We agree that money loss is a terrible thing, especially if it leads to bankruptcy. The bigger issue everyone has to understand is the poor mental health state that comes with gambling addiction. Family and friends begin to notice something strange is happening, which leads to constant arguments and frustration. Furthermore, the addict becomes paranoid that someone will figure out what they are doing since, at the very beginning, most addicts tend to keep their activities to themselves. However, as time goes by, such a big secret cannot be endured, and in no time, everyone around them becomes aware of the fact that they have a problem.

Another urban myth is that you are not a gambling addict if you don’t visit casinos frequently. But keep in mind that one doesn’t have to be in a casino 24/7 to be proclaimed an addict. The urge to gamble slowly begins to take over your thoughts and time. When that happens, you feel the irresistible need to spin the wheel, engage in a round of poker, roll the dice, or bet on a horse… This automatically interferes with your everyday obligations. You can no longer focus at work, and you start to forget to pick up your kids from school, begin arguing with your partner over the increasing lack of money and your sanity, etc. You see, once a gambler crosses the thin line between gambling for fun and gambling as an obsession, they can never go back to healthy gambling habits. There is no compromise there — only completely quitting gambling will help. Unfortunately, you cannot expect to gradually lower the time spent in a casino. From the moment you admit to yourself that you have a big problem, you need to become aware that only a complete exclusion of this aspect of your life is an option.

The Hope and the Cure

When is the time to admit you have a problem? The sooner, the better we say. As long as you engage in an activity that negatively affects you, the worse it will get, and you will become more and more desperate as time passes by. Sadly, some individuals cannot accept that they have an addiction, so usually, their loved ones organize an intervention in an urgent attempt to wake them up from their delusions. So many jobs were lost, so many families and lives wrecked, all because the addicts didn’t have the willpower or the strength to ask for help. Oftentimes, they would rather suffocate in depression and anxiety than reach out for help, mostly because they are too proud and insecure. But there is always an answer and a solution for everything, and gambling addiction isn’t excluded from this.

The key to this journey towards a healthy future is support and strong determination to stop these nasty habits. You need to surround yourself with the people who love and understand you, without any objections. The crucial thing is that you begin to realize that gambling is not a way to deal with your problems; it is only an illusory and temporary escape from them. It will just create additional problems and make everything even worse. So every time you feel an irresistible urge to gamble, do something you really liked before you began gambling. Read a book, exercise, meditate, go to a massage, anything that works for you. However, do not trade one vice for another. Instead, place your money with someone you trust, so that you have only the necessary finances for everyday life, at least during the rehab period. Thankfully, nowadays, the support groups and treatment options are almost limitless. One of the most successful peer support groups is the Gamblers Anonymous — a twelve-step treatment which cured a fantastic number of gambling addicts to this day. You get to share your problems with other people with the same issues, and they might understand you better than your family since they too have been through the same thing. Gamblers Anonymous will assign a Sponsor to you — a person who is an ex-gambler and will be available 24/7 for everything you need. If this isn’t for you, you can always seek the help of a therapist for addiction treatments.

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