“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” has become a familiar slogan in recent years. Unfortunately for the growing number of people with a gambling addiction, this may be much more than a funny catchphrase. Current research finds that nearly 15 million people are on the borderline of developing a compulsive gambling issue, 3 million are considered problem gamblers and 2.5 million have a full-blown gambling addiction. These people tend to be secretive about their issue and suffer with the problem alone.
- Currently, males suffer from pathological gambling more often than females, however, in recent years women are developing this disorder at higher rates.
- Women now comprise one-quarter of individuals diagnosed with pathological gambling.
- Male gambling issues usually develop in their early teen years.
- Women tend to start problem gambling later in life, but the issue accelerates at a much quicker rate than in men.
- Males are inclined to abuse the more interpersonal forms of gambling (e.g., blackjack, craps or poker).
- Females gravitate towards less interpersonal betting (e.g., slot machines or bingo).
Possible Direct Causes
Although the are generally seen as a multifaceted mixture of social, biological and psychological factors, there are a few exceptions that are thought to be singular causes of problem gaming.
The first exception is people taking medications for either Parkinson’s Disease or Restless Leg Syndrome. These prescription medications, such as Mirapex, are thought to influence problem gambling behavior because they increase the activity of a chemical in the brain known as dopamine.
The second exception is someone with bipolar disorder. Symptoms of this mental illness include manic behaviors that involve spending and/or gambling large sums of money. In this case, the bipolar disorder is causing the gambling behavior and not an addiction to gambling in its own right.
Compulsive gamblers may be masters at hiding their issue, however, over time, clues become available to those close to them. Here are some signs to look for in a person you believe may have a gambling addiction:
- After losing money, they always feel the need to go back and break even.
- Irritability arises if the person decreases or tries to stop gambling.
- Inability to stop gambling or a refusal to try.
- Bad luck is used as a reason why they lose money rather than the statistics of chance.
- Gambling causes problems at home, work or school.
- The person loses more money than they have.
- Gambles with increasing amounts of money, even in the face of a large loss.
- Gambling to escape from problems in other areas of their life.
Gambling Rehabilitation Myths
Unfortunately, there are a number of myths shrouding gambling addiction treatment and many of them seem to be designed to block problem gamblers from getting the help they need. These five gambling rehabilitation myths are amongst the most common and the most destructive. Learn the facts that defy the myths and get the gambling rehab help you need if gambling is a problem for you.
Many believe that if they have the money to burn, then who does it hurt if they gamble it all away? As long as the rent is paid, goes the logic, then it shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. Problem gambling is always a problem because it causes more harm than lost money. If you spend the bulk of your time at the casino or online gambling then you don’t have the time to invest in your family, in positive relationships or in your career and other interests.
Another common myth is that gambling is not an addiction if you don’t do it every day. Not true. Gamblers often binge and gamble for days at a stretch, take a break for a few days to sleep and then come back and do it all over again. Gambling is always a problem when it causes issues in your relationships, creates an emotional problem for you when you don’t win or interferes with your responsibilities at work.
For those who ran out of their own money long ago, having others around them willing to pay their gambling debt makes them feel safe, as if their gambling can’t hurt them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Gambling with other people’s money is even more dangerous than gambling with your own and can lead to legal problems and destroyed relationships as soon as you are unable to pay them back.
If you are considering bailing out a gambler you care about from their gambling debt, don’t do it. Enabling the behavior by paying their debt means that the gambler you care about won’t have the chance to learn from the consequences of their actions. The end result will be that you will lose that money forever and the gambler will end up in gambling trouble again at a later date.
Gambling is just like any addiction — there’s always a reason. It may be that you’re in Vegas for a best friend’s wedding or it just may be Tuesday and a tough day at work. Problem gamblers like to blame their behavior on others, but that is just another sign that gambling has become a problem that requires gambling rehabilitation.
Perhaps the most damaging of all the gambling rehab myths, the idea that gambling is not addictive can do more to encourage continued gambling despite obvious problems than any other myth.
Gambling addiction is a difficult compulsive disorder to overcome. It is extremely important that an individual struggling with this problem receives professional treatment to help them defeat their problem for good. If you are looking for help with a gambling addiction, stop the search by contacting us immediately. We have a number of gambling addiction treatment options to assist you or someone you care about as you navigate the road to a balanced life.