Online gambling is open 24 hours a day. You don’t have to get dressed up, and you don’t have to drive anywhere. If you use your credit card, it may even seem like you are not even spending real money at all.
But online gambling can have lasting effects on you and your family. It can even become an addiction, causing hundreds and thousands of dollars in expenses, not to mention the loss of life quality as gambling addiction takes over your life. When you calculate the costs of problem gambling, all bets are off—it may be time to seek help.
Signs and Symptoms of Problem Gambling
When does gambling become a problem? When you are winning, it may seem like there is no problem with gambling, and when the chips are down, things can become desperate again. See if the following symptoms of gambling addiction apply to you:
- You gamble when you win and you still gamble when you lose
- You spend more time online than you plan to spend
- You say you will stop, but when the time comes, you find you are unable to stop
- You spend a lot of time thinking about gambling or worrying about gambling experiences
- You begin to gamble with more money and larger stakes over time
- You become irritable when you cannot be online or gamble
- You bet in order to escape unpleasant moods or memories
- You try to win money back by gambling even more
- You have lied to friends, family, therapists, or your boss about your gambling, or you try to hide your gambling habit
- You have done something illegal in order to make up for losses or to continue gambling
- You have risked or lost a significant relationship in your life because of gambling
If three of more of these symptoms apply to you, it may be time to seek help.
Online Gambling Can be as Addictive as Drugs or Alcohol
A recent study by the Illinois Institute for Addiction recovery found that pathological gambling acts just like a chemical addiction in the brain. When a person cannot stop gambling, he or she may have lower levels of norepinephrine in the brain. Norepinephrine is the chemical that controls happiness, and gambling can provide a “rush” of happy or excited feelings temporarily.
Similarly, those who are addicted to online gambling are at higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs. Problem gamblers are also at a higher risk for depression and suicide.
Help for Online Gambling Addiction
If you or someone you love is suffering from a gambling addiction, drug or alcohol addiction or an emotional or mental health issue, we can help you. We offer a toll-free, 24-hour helpline that is staffed by trained counselors. We are available every day and can help you understand more about your situation, learn about treatment options that are available for you, and get you in touch with the resources you need.