Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Like most addicts, individuals addicted to gambling may not believe they have a problem. Unlike with a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s just not always quite so black and white with a gambling addiction. A drug addict who uses an illegal drug daily is clearly an addict. An addict who uses prescription medications in ways other than prescribed can likely be classified as addicted or dependent. But the frequency of gambling activities isn’t really enough to indicate that someone has a gambling addiction. It all comes down to just how important a role gambling plays in the life of an individual and what it’s costing them in ways beyond the financial sense. It’s harder for loved ones to know whether or not an important person in their life has a gambling addiction, or if they simply have fun gambling in an appropriate way. But there are some clear cut signs that can be characteristic of a compulsive gambling problem.
Signs and Symptoms
Just because someone gambles daily, weekly or monthly doesn’t mean that they’re addicted to gambling. The difficulty is that it doesn’t mean they’re not either. Gambling addiction just can’t be classified in that way; it’s the gambling habits and the effects of gambling that truly characterize gambling compulsion. Typically, these are signs and symptoms that family and close friends of a chronic gambler are well aware of, though they may not know what they mean. The following signs can signify that someone has an addiction to gambling:
- Gambling is out of control. This may not be a sign visible to friends or family members if a gambling addict is alone when they place their bets. This is one sign that a gambling addict needs to assess their situation. They know if they have the power to walk away when they want to, including when they still have winnings in their hand. If they can’t, then a gambling problem is imminent
- Financial standing is declining. Gambling addicts will gamble whether or not they have the money, and will spend every penny.
- Gambling activities are kept secret. A gambling addict may lie about what they’re doing or where they’re going when they’re intending on gambling. Often family and friends can see through these lies, and knows what’s really going on. It’s important to understand that someone who frequently gambles but isn’t addicted should be honest about their gambling habits
- There are major life changes. A gambling addict may suddenly give up on all of those things that were once important to him/her and neglect responsibilities. Job loss, an unwillingness to spend time with friends or family, or spending more time away from home can all indicate gambling addiction
- Collectors are calling. A spouse is in the best position to recognize this sign of gambling addiction when they live in the same household as the gambling addict. Creditors may start calling to collect for credit card debts or unpaid bills. This is an even more blatant sign when the addict has said that bills and expenses were taken care of, and it’s clear there’s something that’s being hidden
Do Gamblers Know They Need Gambling Addiction Treatment?
Not always. In fact, not often. Those who gamble on a regular basis are already compulsively gambling. Those who gamble on a whim and find joys and thrills in the winnings, but can’t control themselves after the fact (i.e., continue to bet until it’s all lost), generally finding themselves in the red afterwards, may recognize that they have a problem but believe that it’s something they control on their own. Even those who have a serious gambling problem that has already drained their bank accounts, taken the house and lost them their relationships and jobs often don’t want to stop gambling, and so gambling addiction treatment is nowhere on their radar.
Since many gamblers don’t believe that they have a problem and those who do still don’t want to get treatment, the best method for helping someone you care about is to provide them with a gambling addiction treatment intervention. You can host your own intervention, but it is advised that you employ the aid of a trained gambling addiction counselor or professional interventionist to oversee the intervention—so that you can ensure that all goes as planned.
Here are a few benefits of holding a gambling addiction treatment intervention for your loved one:
- An intervention can bring the gambling addiction to the surface once and for all.
- It can allow for friends and family members to confront the problem gambler.
- In many cases, a gambling addiction intervention can aid the sufferer in acceptance of their problem.
- By stating your case to them honestly, you can then take proactive measures for treatment.
- Often gamblers don’t even realize that they have a problem and an intervention can point out the specific examples of their addictive behavior and the damage it causes.
- Many times gamblers will hide their addiction, but intervention brings it to the light.
Gambling addiction help is available to those who need it. In many ways, it follows the same structure as treatment for drug addiction or other similar problems. With gambling addiction, there may be an underlying emotional reason why the gambling activities have been allowed to take over. Support and treatment is also necessary as gambling addicts do often carry a great deal of guilt for what they’ve put their families through and how their lives have changed due to their addiction. Treatment help for a gambling problem can help addicts leave their compulsive gambling behaviors behind and begin to put their lives back together.