Sometimes it is the thrill of the moment. Other times it is a way to make a living or to make money back. But all bets are off when your family and your life are at stake.
Gambling addiction is one of the fastest growing impulse-control disorders in the United States today. Over fifteen million Americans display some form of gambling addiction. Also known as compulsive gambling and clinical pathological gambling, gambling can be as addictive as any drug.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Are you concerned that your gambling has become an addiction? Here are some symptoms you may want to be aware of:
- Often thinking about or being preoccupied with gambling
- Betting and gambling to avoid uncomfortable feelings of worry and depression
- Irritability and agitation when you must stop gambling
- Concern and worry about gambling when you are not gambling
- You play if you win, you play if you lose—you gamble no matter what
- Your relationships and your work suffer from gambling
- You are hiding your gambling from loved ones
- You are in financial trouble because of gambling, or you have done illegal things to support or pay off gambling debts
- You have borrowed money for gambling
- You forget important things or miss out on life because of gambling
- You gamble again to win back lost money
- You wish you could stop sometimes, but you feel like you cannot
You do not have to gamble every day to have a gambling problem. And if you are able to afford your gambling problem today, that money will not last forever. Even if family and friends help bail a problem gambler out of debt, that person will continue to gamble no matter what the consequences may be.
The Cycle of Gambling Debt
Gambling debt can cause people to enter into dangerous situations. Often gambling debt takes on a “life of its own,” and creates a desperate situation for the person in debt. The person in debt may end up doing illegal things in order to pay back debt, or may borrow from friends and loved ones to pay off debt.
The debt itself becomes so overwhelming and terrifying that the person finds himself trapped and feels there is no way out. Often, the person gambles even more in order to pay off the debt. The cycle can become very serious and the money involved only grows over time.
How to Break the Gambling Cycle
There is help available for gambling addiction. There are a few things you will need to do in order to break your addiction to gambling:
- You need to have support and guidance from trained counselors who understand what you are going through
- You need to find a way to get away from the places where you gamble most, at least for a little while
- You need to talk about the problem, and find out how this problem got out of hand
- You need financial help to get your finances back under control
- You need family help, so your family can find healing and grow closer and happier