Most gambling problems start with an innocent diversion. Keep playing long enough, however, and it can turn into an unhealthy addiction with serious consequences. Whether it be poker, roulette, or even scratch cards, anytime you play the game of money, it’s not only your cash that’s at risk but your mental health as well.
Gambling addiction (also known as pathological gambling) is the obsessive need to engage in any gambling activity whilst neglecting the potential implications of it. People with gambling addiction often find themselves in casinos, betting houses, and clubhouses, even if they have limited resources with them. It affects their work, their relationships, and their financial standing which can quickly cause turmoil if left untreated.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a gambling addiction, do know that there is a way to stop it. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, how to deal with gambling cravings, and how you can reach out for help to regain control of your life.
Signs and symptoms of gambling addiction
Gambling addiction is often called a hidden illness because the person affected does not exhibit any physical signs like those found in substance addiction. The person may even deny they have a gambling addiction despite engaging in gambling activities frequently. But there are telltale signs that indicate a gambling addiction and these are:
- You’re secretive about your gambling – You start gambling in secrecy because you feel that the people around you don’t understand you or you want to surprise them with a big win.
- You’re struggling to control your gambling – Whether it’s after work or during the weekends, you constantly find yourself in casinos and gambling clubs. You feel compelled to gamble and spend your last dollar before walking away.
- You’re running out of money – You start selling your belongings, borrow money from friends/family members, and you may be even tempted to steal from others just to have money for gambling.
- Your friends and families are worried about you – When you hear your close friends and family members express their concerns about your gambling, then it’s likely that you’ve developed a gambling addiction.
Dealing with gambling addiction
The most important step in overcoming a gambling addiction is to acknowledge that you have a serious problem. It takes a lot of strength and self-awareness, especially if you’ve suffered broken relationships and lost a lot of money along the way. But despite those shortcomings, you can still turn your life around and establish healthy coping mechanisms that will help free you from the grips of gambling.
Learn how to manage your emotions in positive ways. Do you gamble when you’re bored, lonely, or stressed out? Most people gamble as a way of soothing unpleasant emotions and this can turn into a destructive habit very quickly. Instead of going to the casino, look for other ways to de-stress yourself like taking up new hobbies, exercising, spending time with people who don’t gamble, and more.
Surround yourself with the right people. As the old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. You are who you choose to be with. If you constantly hang out with people who gamble, you’ll find yourself doing the same thing. It’s about time you surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart and oftentimes, it’s your closest friends and families who are willing to give you a helping hand.
Treatment options for gambling addiction
Seeking help from a professional does not mean you are weak or incapable. All forms of addiction require the attention of healthcare professionals and mental health experts to kickstart your recovery and help you make better life choices. Each person is unique and you’ll need a recovery program that best fits your situation and preferences.
- Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These programs are geared towards individuals with severe gambling addiction (i.e. being unable to stop gambling without round-the-clock support).
- Treatment for underlying conditions that contribute to gambling addiction like mental health problems ( anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD), and substance abuse disorders. The treatment involves medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Gambling addiction can also be a symptom of bipolar disorder which should be ruled out by a therapist prior to making a diagnosis.
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) CBT focuses on changing unhealthy gambling thoughts and habit. It also teaches the individual how to resist gambling urges and solve problems that stem from gambling whether it be work, finances, or relationships. CBT can help provide the necessary tools for coping with gambling addiction throughout the person’s lifetime.
- Family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counselling. These can help the person work through specific issues that have arisen from gambling addiction and lay the foundation for fixing broken relationships, careers, and financial aspirations.
Recovering from gambling addiction requires two things; the willingness to change and the determination to make lasting life changes. As difficult as it can be to see someone suffer from their gambling problems, ultimately the decision to quit has to be theirs. With the right support system and an appropriate recovery program in place, you can free yourself from the shackles of gambling addiction and move forward with a renewed perspective.
Of you require any additional information, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Calm Rehab, who is the leading rehab centre in Bali, servicing clients from across the globe.