What Impact Does Excessive Gambling Have on the Gambler?
Gambling, on one hand, can be a fun and harmless pastime. On the other, it can be a dangerous addiction that takes over lives. Gambling addiction, which has been classified as an impulse-control disorder, comes with its own set of serious side effects.
Types of Gambling
Over the past few decades, the rates of gambling addiction have been increasing. That is mostly because of accessibility. You can now gamble at a casino, on your phone, at home, on a computer, or even at a store. Popular types of gambling include:
- Horse racing
- Board/card game betting
- Slot machines
- Sports betting
Anywhere you are, you can gamble in some sort of way. While this is convenient, it can be harmful for those with gambling problems.
When A Pastime Becomes Problem Gambling
So how does a hobby become a hurtful addiction? While each case of gambling addiction is different, most people who transition from casual to compulsive gamblers share the same kinds of patterns.
Gambling becomes compulsive when a person:
- Increasingly spends more money each time they gamble
- Feels the need to be secretive & lies about gambling
- Returns to gambling after losing large amounts of money
- Thinks about gambling constantly & makes plans to gamble
- Uses gambling as a form of escapism
Obviously, these behaviors don’t come out of nowhere. While gambling addictions aren’t genetic and can happen to anyone, there is usually an underlying cause for these issues.
Causes of Gambling Addiction
There are several possible issues that can trigger or cause gambling addictions. These live events and risk factors may include:
- Job related stress
- Depression or anxiety
- Other addictions (substance abuse)
The 8 Effects of Gambling
While the physical symptoms of gambling addiction might not be quite as severe as those that come with substance abuse, there are still many undesirable and potentially dangerous effects.
The physical, emotional, and mental effects of gambling addiction include:
- Restlessness & irritability
- Committing illegal acts
- Increased stress
- Intestinal disorders
- Anxiety issues
Not everyone who has a gambling addiction will experience these effects, but the eight above are among the most common. These symptoms might come at different stages of an addiction with varying intensities.
How to Know If You Have A Gambling Issue
Considering that some of the above effects might not be noticeable for a while, how can you figure out if you have a gambling problem? Only a clinical professional can give an official diagnosis; however, you can take online tests and observe certain behaviors to see if it might be time to seek help.
You may have an issue if gambling is starting to affect your work, home, and social life. If you find that you can’t stop gambling or are starting to experience financial issues, medical treatment might be the best option.
Types of Treatment for Gambling Addiction
Treatments for gambling addiction use the same general methods as substance abuse programs. This kind of treatment utilizes therapy, medication, and self-help groups to help motivate those with addictions to stop gambling for good.
Resisting the Effects of Gambling
Giving up gambling can be hard for those with addictions, but it is possible to live a very happy and healthy life without making any bets.
First, surround yourself with people who don’t gamble; or, spend time with people who will hold you accountable when you try to gamble. The next step is to avoid temptation by staying away from environments or websites that promote gambling. If it was ever uncontrollable, it may be a good idea to give someone else temporary control of your finances.
Finally, the best way to give up gambling is to relieve unpleasant feelings in a more positive and healthy manner. If you’d like to learn more about the possible effects of gambling addiction, along with the available treatment options, contact our addiction and mental health professionals by calling 866-488-8486.