For a long time, gambling has been a synonym of shady characters and vice. The tide has changed today, and gambling has been able to gain more acceptance in society. This is a double-edged sword, since sometimes the line between what’s allowed and what’s healthy gets blurry.
People gamble mostly for the fun of it. It’s thrilling to win a nice prize for your favourite pokie, or getting some money when your favourite team wins.
When a gambler plays an online game or visits sportsbooks as a form of entertainment, there’s little risk of it becoming an issue if it’s done responsibly. However, if you’re a gambler and gambling is having a negative impact on your life, you might have a gambling problem.
If you have problems in your relationships with friends or loved ones over your gambling, it would be best to make an honest assessment of whether you’re having gambling problems. The same goes for money problems related to casinos or betting, including debt or losing your job.
Left unchecked, gambling harm can be enormous for you and your loved ones. It can induce job loss and even bankruptcy, not to mention the unmeasurable emotional and mental damage to you and people surrounding you.
And, of course, if you know you have a gambling disorder, you need to seek help immediately. In this article we’ll review key issues that might point to gambling problems, and what to do about it.
If you feel you’re alone with your gambling problem, think again. According to the American Psychiatric Association, more than 1% worldwide are sufferers of gambling addiction. The data is in constant revision by the APA staff, thanks to the widespread use of online sites for gambling.
There’s a psychological profile that might increase the risk of compulsive gambling. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’re highly competitive, workaholic, impulsive, restless or easily bored, you have higher chances of developing this health condition.
Among health conditions, gambling addiction is not so well-known, and there are no drugs to treat it in isolation. However, there’s evidence that some medicines help to reduce the urge to gamble, such as dopamine antagonists.
This is because there’s a dopamine release when a gambling win happens. As you keep gambling, the “dopamine hit” gets more difficult to achieve, making you gamble more.
How To Know If You Have a Gambling Problem
Unlike other addictions like alcohol or drugs, gambling problems are more invisible sometimes. Unfortunately, they tend to be noticed once the consequences are severe. This is because symptoms can easily be confused with excitement over games, stress or trouble in other areas of life, and more.
The best way to get started is with a survey. There are online sites that allow you to fill a form to assess whether you have a problem with gambling. The questions cover a wide range of issues for anyone with this concern. It’s also important to know that there are several types of symptoms you can check.
For instance, you can be a sufferer of an impulse-control disorder. Everyone has impulses to engage in behaviour that is not ideal, but when you have this disorder, you can’t control those impulses. If you find yourself in a situation where you know you must stop making a bet or playing pokies but you simply can’t, you might have an impulse-control disorder.
This manifests itself in a myriad ways, such as sex addiction, kleptomania and other impulsive behaviours, including gambling. In that case, it’s best to visit a health professional that can diagnose it.
However, that’s not the only symptom casino customers can check to know whether they have gambling disorders. If your behaviour has changed negatively since you started gambling, it’s a strong indicator. It can be as subtle as relationship problems, feeling like a loser, anxiety or depression. But it can go as far as thoughts of suicide, drug abuse or any combination of things.
Trust your intuition. If you feel you’re not doing well, or family members tell you so, consider it seriously.
How to Know if Your Loved One Has a Problem
There are many ways in which you can assess if your loved one has a problem with gambling. Of course, use these only as indicators, and seek professional help when in doubt. Your loved one might have issues with gambling, when they:
- Have an obsession with gambling
- Are betting more to get the same thrill
- Are not able to stop gambling
- Feel irritable when you confront them
- Gamble to escape problems
- Bet more to recoup gambling losses
- Lie to you about their gambling
- Risk their job, relationships or assets because of gambling
- Ask for money to pay back gambling debts
If you know someone who presents these behaviors, it’s very likely they have a gambling issue. It needs to be treated, because the urge to gamble sets individuals in a path of destruction, gambling more each time.
Sometimes, there’s a remission period. Be wary of that. The gambler seems to recover, but it’s often only temporary without proper help.
Not every gambler has an addiction. Here are some important myths about gambling and the reality behind them.
- Everyday gambling means addiction
There are gambling addicts that don’t gamble every day. The key is if the gambling causes important difficulties in life.
- If they can afford it, it’s not a problem.
Problems go far beyond the financial and include relationship and job problems.
- Addicted gamblers are irresponsible.
Nobody is exempt from having problems with gambling, including responsible people.
- You need to pay the gambler’s debt ASAP
This is similar to “bailing out” the gambler. It can make problems worse, since no lesson was learnt.
- It’s easy to tell if a gambler has an addiction
It isn’t. Unlike other addictions, it’s difficult to see in the naked eye. Worst of all, many affected are in self-denial.
How to Better Control Your Gambling
If you believe you have a problem with betting, you should take it seriously and get help. However, if you don’t consider you have an issue but still want to decrease your gambling, here are some suggestions.
Be wary of bonuses
Sure, bonuses are great for both sports bets and casino games. These can come in varied forms, such as a no-deposit bonus or special sports betting offers when betting on a specific market or sports. There are many other options in which sites attract bettors but they all imply that you’ll get some edge to decide to play at that site.
Even though bonuses can be addictive in themselves, there’s another danger, too. When checking the details of many promotions, you’ll probably find out that you can’t make any withdrawals until you wagered your own funds a certain amount of times. This means you need to place dozens of bets with your own money before taking out any winnings from the bonuses.
This is an easy way to lose control, since you’ll end up spending a lot more than you initially thought.
If you notice you spend a lot of time betting on horse racing, football or playing casino games, set limits. These can be taking breaks such as not gambling for a number of days or hours. The important thing is to stick to the schedule and not cheat.
It’s also important that during the break you don’t engage in other gambling activities outside of the casino or bookie, such as lotto or bingo tickets.
Stop Thinking Magically
Some individuals base their chances on completely magical thoughts. These players truly believe they’ll make a fortune winning the major prize, or beat everyone else at poker, always. They wager in markets they “know for sure” will make them win. They think they have better odds than anyone else.
This is the perfect recipe for disaster. These beliefs do not correspond to reality, since nobody has a perfect formula to win when gambling. Randomness is what counts the most, but the range of things that can go against you in any bet are high. So high, you should never consider gambling an option to quit work and make a living out of it.
Be realistic and understand that you have chances of both winning and losing.
Fortunately, there are some tools at your disposal to quit gambling. Here are five important recommendations that anyone can try when suffering from this condition. There are other alternatives as well, and the extent of success with each will vary from person to person, so be sure to consider them all before committing to one.
Use Casino Tools
Most reputable casinos have a Responsible Gambling section. Inside, you can find out about tools that will help you to quit or control your gambling.
An important problem gamblers have is controlling their spending. This is why some casinos allow you to set limits on your spending, both time and money ones. If you feel you’re past that and need to completely quit, you can also make use of other features, such as self-exclusion. It means that you authorize the casino to prevent you from using it. This can be temporary or permanent.
These casino and sportsbook tools can be used from any device, including Android and Apple phones, so you’ll have no issues when accessing them. However, check with the site support team if you have problems finding them.
Visit Gambling Issue Associations
One of the best ways to get help in New Zealand is committing yourself to associations which deal with gambling issues, such as Gamblers Anonymous. In New Zealand, there are many foundations and services to help you, like the Problem Gambling Foundation in Christchurch, the Odyssey House in Auckland or the Gambling Helpline Services, which is nationwide.
They have a lot of experience of this problem and give advice, including a recovery program. On the casino page you can usually find links to these groups.
A great thing about attending their meetings is that you can find people from different backgrounds sharing the same issues. Having someone that understands what you’re going through is critical to recovery, which is something a loved one can’t relate to. It’s well known that many sufferers from gambling problems also share other mental health issues, too.
Gamblers Anonymous has a 12-step program, and each step is critical in improving the lives of every participant.
Just making the decision to attend a meeting is an important indicator that you might be on the road to recovery.
One of the best courses of action is getting counseling from a good professional. It’s important that they be well-versed in this particular issue, since it requires specific diagnosis, treatments and assistance. If you don’t know anyone specific for gambling problems, check with other colleagues.
Therapy can give you vital information and resources for you to understand where the problem comes from, its development and, of course, to find a solution. In some cases, your brain chemistry might be out of balance. In that case, psychiatric treatment might be the best course of action. The counselor can refer you to a doctor that can help you with medication. Of course, never use medications without the approval of professionals.
One of the best ways to overcome a gambling addiction is to find a different activity. The key is to select activities that don’t reward the same kind of behaviour that paved the way for the gambling addiction to take place. An interesting activity for people with gambling problems is any type of sport.
If you have access to sports facilities around you, you can try different ones to find a favourite. Just like gambling, many sports involve winning and losing, but your performance relies mainly on you rather than chance.
Other activities are traveling, meditation or any hobbies that keep your mind occupied. There are many websites with suggestions ranging from landscaping to model building.
Cancel Your Payment Methods
This is extreme, and you should only do this as a last resource. If you can’t find sources to fuel your gambling, you won’t be able to gamble. This means cancelling any card, bank account and e-wallets like PayPal. You’ll need to settle any debts first, and bear in mind payment methods are necessary for everyday life.
Of course, it’s much better to seek help from others instead of doing this. But if you absolutely need to, you can also phone your bank or payment service to block payments.
Don’t Deal With It Alone
One of the factors that makes everything worse is keeping it to yourself. Others can help a lot, and they probably have already seen at least some signs of your problem. A friend or loved one can help you to understand your feelings, and the effects your addiction is having on you.
Sometimes the urge to keep playing doesn’t let you notice many additional issues. An example of this is personal care. Many gamblers don’t even consider their personal appearance anymore when they’re addicted to slots or bookmakers. Making it a habit to discuss your issues with others is a good way to find solace and comfort.
Your family members and friends can also stage an intervention. Should that happen, consider that they love you and might see things you can’t.
If you don’t have close friends or family, the community is a good substitute. Dealing with others, especially groups of people that understand your issue, will allow you to feel less alone, improve your quality of life and give you hope.
Why Writing About Gambling Addiction Is Important To Us
Gambling Addiction is a serious issue that has devastating consequences on individuals and their families. We write about this subject to bring awareness to this addiction. We promote responsible gambling and provide many tools to combat this addiction.
FAQs About Gambling Addiction
Here’s some of the frequently asked questions about Gambling Addiction:
What are the causes of gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is a disorder that affects millions of people around the world. While the exact cause of gambling addiction is not known, there are several factors that can contribute to the development of the disorder. One of the primary causes of gambling addiction is a person’s genetics.
Who can help someone with a gambling addiction?
If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, there are many resources available to help. The first step is to reach out for help.