Common signs and side effects of gambling addiction
There are common signs that you can look for in yourself or a loved one if you suspect that gambling has become an addiction.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the diagnostic tome for mental health professionals, outlines nine common symptoms of gambling addiction, including:
- A need to spend more and more money in order to get the gambling rush that a person seeks from the experience.
- Restlessness, anxiety, or irritability when a person attempts to reduce the amount spent on gambling or to stop gambling altogether.
- Many attempts have been made to quit gambling, but have been unsuccessful.
- Continuous thoughts of gambling, including when the next trip will be, how to get money for the next trip, or constant reminiscing about previous gambling excursions.
- A person is triggered to gamble more frequently when experiencing negative mental and emotional states.
- A person must gamble the next day after a loss, either in the hopes of recouping losses or to break even with the system.
- A person lies about where he is going, how much he has spent, or downplays how involved he is in gambling.
- Relationships with friends and family have been damaged, or educational and employment statuses have been negatively impacted by gambling.
- A person consistently requests money from others in order to pay bills that have been ignored so that he could gamble.
Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is a type of impulse-control disorder. Compulsive gamblers can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when they know their gambling is hurting themselves or their loved ones. Gambling is all they can think about and all they want to do, no matter the consequences. Compulsive gamblers keep gambling whether they’re up or down, broke or flush, happy or depressed. Even when they know the odds are against them, even when they can’t afford to lose, people with a gambling addiction can’t “stay off the bet.”
Every gambler is unique and so needs a recovery program tailored specifically to him or her. What works for one gambler won’t necessarily work for you. The biggest step in treatment is realizing you have a problem with gambling. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way. Don’t despair, and don’t try to go it alone. Many others have been in your shoes and have been able to break the habit.