Gambling Addiction Facts
Each year, millions of people are affected by an addiction to gambling or problem gambling. Classified as a mental health problem, gambling is characterized by a fixation on gambling and compulsive behavior focused on the high of winning. The drive to win, to experience that high, can devastate the life of the gambler, destroy their finances and their families. Emotional and behavioral problems like stress, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, drug and alcohol addiction and other issues often go hand in hand with gambling addiction and require dual diagnosis treatment help.
Experts estimate that people who gamble occasionally – much like those who drink socially – have the potential to develop an addiction to gambling. About 2 percent to 5 percent of the population in the United States are living with gambling addiction. Of these millions of people, about 25 percent of them are female. Games of choice from men? Most men are addicted to table card games, craps and roulette. And for women? Women tend to be addicted to lottery tickets, slots, bingo and keno.
Types of Gambling Problems
Five types of problem gambling have been identified by the mental health treatment community. These can range from mild social issues to binge gambling and obsessive compulsive gambling. It is important to note that they all still can have similar effect upon the individual, and that in most cases, these problems require serious treatment.
- Problem gambling. Can be mild to severe and often causes issues with family members, hurts finances, and may interfere with an individual’s job.
- Social gambling. Defined by the individual who gambles socially but on a regular basis and is upset when if this schedule is interrupted.
- General gambling. Represented by an individual who gambles daily. This can mean buying lottery tickets, visiting a casino or gambling online.
- Binge gambling. A serious addiction whereby the individual may manage to avoid gambling for long periods or gamble socially without consequence but ultimately binges and gambles recklessly without care for the consequences.
- Pathological gambling. The most serious type of gambling addiction issue. It is characterized by obsessive thoughts plus compulsive actions that ruins the family finances and gets the gambler in serious financial trouble.
Signs and Symptoms
There are some classic signs and symptoms of problem gambling and/ or addiction that can help you determine whether or not your habits or the habits of a loved one have spiraled out of control.
- Desperately seeking money. This is one of the biggest and most obvious signs of a gambling addiction. Since most gamblers tend to bet big and subsequently lose big, they are often in need of cash to feed the addiction. This can cause them to max out credit cards, ask friends for money, or even sell or steal personal possessions. Bargaining, begging or stealing for money despite unpaid loans and extreme losses is a huge symptoms of gambling.
- Secretive over amounts lost and gambled. Most gambling addicts are aware that their losses are problematic and wish to conceal their addiction and the amounts that they’ve been losing. This can result in devious behavior toward group finances (i.e., family funds, college funds, retirement savings, work funds, petty cash, et cetera).
- Aggressively defensive about their gambling addiction. Reacting defensively when even the most innocent questions about gambling and money are asked is another common symptoms of a problem. Attacking their delusions about the next “big win” or the “sure bet” will only garner an argument from the problematic gambler.
Help is Available
If you are ready to get the help you need to recover from gambling addiction, contact us today. We can help you locate a treatment program that can help you change your life.