Las Vegas, most famous as the liberal gambling capital, draws people from across the world. The city filled with casinos allows people to experience gambling with small stakes and the distant possibility of winning big bucks. These are people who sometimes play for a fun experience with friends and family.
But unfortunately, the line between harmless entertainment and a dangerous addiction quickly gets diluted. Addicts make gambling the center of their lives. The frequency of playing the games changes, and so are the stakes involved – more significant money, prized possessions are sold for quick cash, sometimes even worse, sacrificing your pride, stealing, favors, or precious family time. It’s gambling addiction. The unhealthy obsession has serious consequences.
What Is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction, also known as problem gambling or compulsive gambling, is a growing addiction that can have multiple adverse psychological, physical, and social repercussions. It’s classified as an impulse-control disorder. Regardless of the consequences, the addicts lose the ability to control their choices.
Gambling addicts can bet on just about anything. It results in disrupting relationships with loved ones, especially families, interfering with work and, leading to substantial financial losses.
A gambling addict can be anyone. Sometimes even the most responsible people develop a gambling addiction. Many factors lead to change in their behavior, such as job-related stress, loneliness, retirement, substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, or trauma.
It’s essential to address the underlying causes to be able to help or treat a gambling addict.
How to Identify a Gambling Addict
Unlike substance abuse or alcohol addiction, gambling addiction is a hidden illness. There are no physical signs unless you start observing their daily habits and changed behavior. However, in extreme gambling cases, the addicts may show signs of sleep deprivation, weight gain or loss, dark circles under the eyes, severe headaches and an increase in other addictions. It’s a treacherous path.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) in its guidelines states that a person must indicate or experience at least four of the following in a year to turn into a gambling addict:
- Gamble in all stressful situations
- Not being able to control the habit of gambling
- Mood swings when not gambling
- The urge to gamble with a lot of money, the heightened excitement
- Deny or lie to conceal the addiction
- Gamble even when you have don’t have enough money
- Strained relationships or work problems due to gambling
- Return to gambling despite losing money
- Making repeated plans to go gambling
- Develop a habit of taking favors or loans to gamble
- Put anything of sentimental value or inheritance also on stake to be able to gamble
Treatment for Gambling Addiction
If there is an addiction, there is a treatment as well. Overcoming a gaming addiction cannot be achieved instantly. But with patience, support from family, and seeking timely professional help can save your loved ones’ lives and help them lead a healthy balanced life.
It’s also vital to remember that every gambler has unique traits and habits. It’s best to reach out to a physical or mental health professional to know about all the available treatment options, including:
- Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs: This is for severe addicts on the path of self-destruction with gambling. They require immediate attention and need to be under surveillance and support round the clock.
- Outpatient rehabilitation program: Under this program, the gambling addicts are provided with therapy classes at a facility. They have the freedom to continue with their everyday lives, but they must attend group and one-on-one therapy sessions to quit gambling for good.
- Treatment for underlying conditions contributing to your compulsive gambling can include mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or substance abuse. It includes therapy, medication, as well as lifestyle changes.
- Psychotherapy or Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps addicts change their unhealthy gambling behaviors, delusional beliefs, and negativesthoughts. The therapy also teaches them to fight their urges and solve their relationship, financial, and work problems and regain control of their lives.
- Family therapy, marriage, career, and credit counseling: These can help the addicts work through their specific issues due to gambling and lay the foundation for repairing strained relationships and finances.
Where to Get Help
Gambling addiction is often progressive, so the sooner it gets diagnosed, the faster to the road to recovery. But for many addicts, this may seem impossible without support.
The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling has a number of resources.
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Newman, Tim. “Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 19 July 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/15929.
Tyler, Mara. “Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 16 Dec. 2016, www.healthline.com/health/addiction/gambling.