Do you know a loved one or friend who constantly needs to borrow money? Do they have a good, stable job and yet always appear in debt?
Gambling addiction is financially draining and can impact every aspect of your loved one’s life, including personal relationships and career.
Unfortunately, it can happen even when there are severe financial consequences. It appears as though the motivation to gamble is strongly tied to the amount of risk involved. Higher risk means a potentially higher reward and a compulsion to risk it all.
If you notice signs of gambling addiction in those around you, friends, or loved ones, you can get them help before things become too serious. Thankfully, there are many hallmark signs you can watch out for to identify this form of addiction. This article will help you to identify the signs of gambling addiction.
Is Gambling Addictive?
Yes, gambling is an addictive habit that stimulates the reward system in the brain.
When enough dopamine is released, you experience pleasure and feel motivated to gamble again. With time, dopamine function may become altered. Impaired dopamine function from an excess of overly stimulating activities causes a deficit, initiating withdrawal symptoms if the stimulant is absent or removed. Psychological side effects are common when people try to quit addictive habits.
An individual will prefer to keep gambling to avoid the unpleasant psychological side effects of withdrawal. This is an indication of gambling addiction, where they feel compelled to gamble to experience pleasure or joy.
Transitioning from a state of addiction back to normal may need weeks, months, or longer with or without professional treatment. It may also be difficult for an individual not ready to quit gambling unless they have the help of a professional.
What Symptoms Does Gambling Cause?
Individuals addicted to gambling might show different symptoms. Thankfully, some symptoms are common among those struggling. Therapy becomes necessary when you note the following symptoms of gambling addiction:
1. Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms are common due to neurochemical imbalances in the brain triggered by the association of dopamine with risky behavior.
This is common when you try to quit your gambling habit. Withdrawal symptoms might include irritability, restlessness, stress, insomnia, and anxiety.
It is important to note that the brain will adjust and get used to changes with time. This should encourage you if you are trying to quit gambling.
2. Expression of Guilt or Remorse After Gambling
You might notice a family member or friend express guilt or remorse after gambling. Despite how they may feel about their gambling, they won’t stop. This goes on and develops into a full-fledged addiction.
The feelings of remorse, guilt, and shame come when they lose. This reduces their feelings of self-worth. These feelings can result in depression and suicidal thoughts if things get really bad or they spiral into debt. This is also common in people who don’t know how to cope with loss.
3. Strained or Ruined Relationships Due to Gambling
Gambling addictions can cause relationship breakdowns among couples, family members, or friends.
An addict generally gets distant from friends, which leads to social isolation. This is common in all forms of addiction. Others might hide or lie about their gambling habits. All these factors lead to strained and ruined relationships with family, loved ones, partners, and friends.
4. Feeling More Alive When Gambling
This is another sign to watch out for. The addicted gambler gets a high feeling even after a loss. This is because the brain’s reward system is stimulated by the action of gambling. Your family or friend may use gambling as a way to escape from his problems or stresses.
5. Continuing To Gamble Despite Losses
Losses should make one give up on gambling. However, an individual with a gambling addiction finds that a loss fuels further gambling. This can lead to more significant losses. In the worst of cases, some individuals encounter severe financial loss and debt.
3 Signs a Person Might Have a Gambling Problem: Things to Watch For
Individuals with gambling problems may display some sudden or prolonged behavioral changes. It’s essential to learn the common indications of addiction to take appropriate action when you notice them.
1. Dysfunction in Daily Routine
An individual with a gambling disorder may find difficulty performing their daily routine. This can become a challenge even at work, as concentrating on other things becomes overwhelmingly difficult for them.
2. Getting Defensive and Lying About Gambling
Some people might start lying about gambling, especially when you ask them to stop their risky habits. They may also act defensive about how gambling can lead to huge wins. They do not want to be deterred from gambling, and refuse to accept how damaging it is to their livelihood.
Gambling obsession seems obvious. It is, however, the main factor to watch out for. This is the inability of a person to stop gambling, as they become fixated on it. You can note this if your family or friend constantly talks about gambling, or always seems to be gambling online rather than spending time with others.
At What Point Is Gambling a Problem?
In most cases, people just participate in gambling for leisure. Gambling can become a problem when you begin to risk savings or financial stability to gamble, hoping that you will get a better reward.
The urge to gamble can lead you to borrow money from friends or family if you fall into debt. At the same time, as you try to keep on top of the already existing debt, you end up borrowing more. This creates harmful and anxiety-inducing cycles addicts find difficult to break out of.
Through first and second-hand experience, we know gambling becomes a problem when the habit results in financial loss, job loss, bankruptcy, strained personal relationships, mental health conditions, unpaid bills, and homelessness (in the worst-case scenario).
How Do You Deal With Someone Who Has a Gambling Problem?
Dealing with somebody who is suffering from gambling problems can be difficult.
Engaging your family member or friend that struggles with gambling addiction in everyday activities is crucial. It can help to distract them from intrusive thoughts and lead them away from the source of their addiction.
You can also encourage them to express themselves. They might feel more comfortable confiding in people they trust so that they can feel better understood. This is sometimes only possible with support groups where the members have shared experiences. Support groups are an integral aspect of the recovery process.
They can be encouraged to show up for any therapy or treatment sessions. Battling the depression that might come with addiction (or withdrawal) can be difficult. An individual may want to give up along the way.
Sometimes the impact of a loved one’s addiction can negatively affect you. Never blame yourself for their addiction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find below some of the frequently asked questions when it comes to gambling addiction:
What Is the Personality of a Gambler?
The personality traits of a gambler include easy irritability, workaholism, impulsiveness, and restlessness. They may use gambling as escapism from personal problems. There are different personality types of gamblers. These might include conservative gamblers, professional gamblers, personality gamblers, compulsive gamblers, or more casual, social gamblers.
Is It Hard To Stop Gambling?
It can be difficult for an addicted person to stop gambling. They can find help through professional treatment if they struggle with addiction, but continued losses can lead to financial poverty and a repeating cycle of wanting to win to pay back loans or debt.
Additional Addictions to Watch For
There are many other things that you can get addicted to, apart from drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Some potentially addictive things include video games, shopping, and internet use.
While more common in younger age groups, these addictions can happen to anyone.
Signs of Video Game Addiction: Video games can be harmful. Video game addiction may involve a preoccupation with video games, loss of interest in other activities, and using gaming to cope with stress.
Signs of Shopping Addiction: Shopping addiction is a compulsive behavior that makes you buy items you may not need or use. Signs of shopping addiction include spending more than you can afford.
Signs of Internet Addiction: Spending countless hours online, having less interest in other activities, and lying about hours spent online are all hallmark signs of Internet addiction.
Technological advancements, to some point, have made it easy for people everywhere to gamble. Online gambling is a multi-billion-dollar industry that has continued to grow. This has increased the convenience of gambling.
As a result, we have seen an unprecedented rise in gambling addictions. Anyone who has noticed the trademark signs of gambling addiction in friends or loved ones should seek help from a certified gambling counselor or professional.