A Comprehensive Description of Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction revolves around a person being unable to stop themselves from gambling, even if they know that their behaviors are harming themselves and others. It’s very similar to any other kind of addiction, whether physical in nature or mental. Gambling is built upon certain mental/psychological principles, which, in case a person spends too much time gambling, might have a negative influence on that person.
You may notice that people who are addicted to gambling are unable to stop themselves from playing, even if that results in certain kinds of long-term consequences for the gambler.
Some of these listed symptoms are more on the extreme end of what’s possible, but make no mistake: any kind of addiction is serious business and needs to be taken seriously.
Here are some common issues with gambling and some examples of traits of a problem gambler or someone who is addicted to gambling. If you’re concerned that you’re a problem gambler, read some of these and see if any of this fits with you:
- A problem or addicted gambler may hide their activities from their loved ones, workplace, or various parts of their social circle. The reason for this behavior varies: from not wanting to announce a loss to actively avoiding telling anyone how much money they spend on gambling.
- A problem gambler may always think about the casino – when they can go back again, what they stand to gain while romanticizing or waving away their losses.
- You may be a problem gambler if you choose to use gambling to deal with your problems.
- It’s hard for you to quit gambling, although you could have made repeated attempts and serious tries.
- You prefer spending time at the casino instead of going out with your friends or family. This is another obvious trait of an addicted gambler or problem gambler.
- Inability to reduce gambling, quit thinking about gambling, or think about anything other than your next chance to go gamble.
- Finally, if you try to use your friends or family’s assistance financially, to help you continue to play, you may be facing a personal issue with an addiction to gambling.
Now, while all kinds of gambling addiction should be addressed, there are different levels and severities to it. Let’s list them out here and really get some more in-depth definitions for you to rely on and use:
Problem Gambling: A problem gambler is someone whose gambling causes them or someone they love or care about problems. This doesn’t even necessarily mean that you are addicted, but that there is a negative aspect of your gambling that needs to be corrected.
The problem can be physical, mental, social, financial, or any and all in between; but still, one can still manage to overcome it.
Compulsive Gambling: This is a much more straightforward definition and something that you’re likely to be able to predict just from the name. Compulsive gambling happens when someone is unable to stop themselves from gambling and cannot control themselves at all. When it comes to gambling addictions, this is probably what you would imagine: a movie-esque level of lack of control in the person’s life, unable to make clear and rational decisions due to their addiction to gambling.
Binge Gambling: Somewhat of a crossroads between the two previous definitions, binge gamblers are in an interesting spot. When they are not gambling, they can be just fine for longer periods of time without any real issue.
However, they make up for this calmness with unrestrained behavior for prolonged periods of time by ‘binging’: consuming a lot of ‘gambling’ in one single sitting, almost like eating a lot of food. Binge gamblers are people who will blow several thousand at a casino in one night and then not play for weeks or months. Just because the hobby isn’t constant doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue here.
A Deep Definition of Responsible Gaming
It is, of course, possible to game or gamble responsibly. Not every person you’d find in a casino, whether online or in real life, is an addict. Not by any means. But due to how the activity works and the way the behavior affects your brain, gambling is an activity that can very quickly become addictive.
To rectify this – as much as possible – it’s important that you practice responsible gaming or responsible gambling. Now, this isn’t quite as difficult as some people may imagine it is, but there are still some important rules that you need to follow: and you cannot break them, or you may find yourself addicted sooner or later.
Remember, these rules are meant to keep you safe. They’re designed to not allow you to make mistakes, spend too much money, or set yourself in a position that you feel as if you can’t get out of. Let’s go over some common-sense rules for responsible gaming and why you should follow them, as well.
Common Sense Rules for Responsible Gambling
- First of all, to start off with, you’ll want to make sure that you choose the right casino to play with. This is important because you’ll never get the best deals at a subpar casino – and furthermore, you want to avoid ones that are suspicious or outright illegal. It isn’t responsible gaming if you’re actively letting someone scam you.
- Now comes the rule that some people might have some problems implementing. Not only should you set limits on yourself, for a night or session, week or month – you should be realistic about those limits. Don’t raise your limit in the middle of your session, don’t allow yourself to get around your own rules, and if you run out of money, log out, go to the hotel, or go home. Don’t continue to waste money and go on a massive losing street.
- Remember to have fun. This might seem counterintuitive, but many people can take various casual activities extremely seriously. Think about people who take sports very seriously, even if they play it casually, or someone who gets too wrapped up in the game night. A day at the casino is very similar: there’s no reason to allow yourself to get into a bad emotional spiral that will make you make worse and worse decisions.
- This also means controlling yourself when losing. Sometimes, it’s better to cut your losses. If you’re not having fun, or if you’re on a losing streak and you haven’t hit your limit yet, sometimes you might want to leave anyway: just to prevent yourself from getting more and more negative as time goes on.
- Reviewing and tracking the history of how much you game is also a good idea. The reason for this is it will show you how much you actually play: not just the amount of money you spend, but the amount of time you spend on that activity, and what you could’ve been doing instead with that time. If it’s just recreational, that’s one thing: but don’t let it affect your work, home, family, or social life.
- Finally, two last tips: not only should you regularly take a break from gambling for your mental health (and some aspects of physical health, too), it may also be a good idea to make certain you tell someone about your gambling. Hiding compulsive or addictive gambling is one of the main things that someone with a gambling problem does because they know there are problems, but they don’t want to show them to someone else.
What To Do If You or A Loved One Suffers From Problem Gambling
We’ve looked closer into the problem of addiction and gambling, as well as the solution in the form of responsible gaming. But how do you make the transition? What if someone has a serious gambling addiction and it feels impossible to help them? Are there any solutions?
The first thing, of course, is to stop the activity. Until the person can be trusted to make the correct decisions on their own, they have to be not allowed to gamble any further. Whatever form this takes, as the person helping them, you decide: assuming the person is cooperating.
From there, you treat it similarly to other addictions, including addressing the core root of addiction: issues in the person’s life. While addictive personalities exist, and some things are naturally addictive, most addicts suffer in their life in some way that causes them to turn to the thing that lets them forget about these problems, even temporarily. Addicts of any kind are not monsters: they are often just people, hurting, that need help.
Solutions to prevent someone from accessing a casino or place to gamble:
- If the casinos they visit are in person, keep track of their physical whereabouts or don’t let them be by themselves for an extended period of time. If they’re dangerous to themselves, this is perfectly ethical, and you are helping them, even if they don’t like it.
- If the casinos are online, then block the access to those websites using various different methods: such as browser addons and and downloads, apps on phones, even to the point of editing the gambler’s login information for their favorite website so they cannot access it.
- Use time-tracking or a way of monitoring the card that the person uses to gamble to be certain they are not gambling without you knowing about it.
These are just a few options. There are a ton of solutions to prevent someone from trying to gamble, but ultimately the gambler needs to be the one that wants the change. If they don’t, then there’s nothing to be done on that front.
There’s also no way to replace real help from a doctor or professionals who deal with these problems on a day-to-day basis. Doctors who deal with mental health encounter these kinds of issues all the time: there’s very little that they haven’t come across before.
By putting your loved one – or yourself – with this kind of help, you vastly increase their chance of success. A doctor will be able to help you discover the root cause of the problem and offer solutions in many different options: therapy being very common.
It is a treatable issue. Don’t treat the person who has the addiction like a villain: and nor should you expect them to be better overnight, especially if they use gambling for personal reasons.
You – if you are not the person affected with a gambling disorder – are not alone either. Listed below are several hotlines for you to call if you feel like you cannot combat this problem yourself. These places are here to help and can at least direct you to the right resources for your area, where you might receive more in-depth assistance that can suit your needs.
1-800-858-858 (Australian National Gambling Helpline)