Gambling addiction may not seem like a disease because you do not smell it on a person’s breath or see it in a person’s dilated pupils. However, gambling addiction is a disease that impacts the addict as well as his friends, family members, and colleagues. Those addicted to gambling are encouraged to seek professional help.
Negative Effects of Gambling
Many people believe that gambling only affects a person from a financial perspective. While that is clearly a problem, gambling addiction can also affect a person in the following ways:
- Physical risks of gambling – It is not uncommon for a gambling addict to suffer from insomnia, particularly if she is an online gambler who plays late in the evening in an attempt to hide her addiction. Gambling addicts also suffer from headaches, back or neck pain, and upset stomachs as a result of the emotional roller coaster that gambling puts them in. When a person’s focus is on gambling, everyday life skills such as eating properly and personal hygiene are often neglected.
- Mental health/emotional – Gambling can cause a person to experience a range of emotions: from anxiety about winning the next game to depression about having lost. In addition, a person may experience anger or resentment towards a particular game. However, probably the greatest impact deals with how the person feels about his gambling, which often causes his self-esteem to drop.
- Financial/legal – When a person is expending too much of her income on gambling, this will obviously lead to financial difficulties. The mortgage and car loan payments may slip, debt may increase, and a person may feel forced into lying, stealing, or other fraudulent behaviors to hide her financial recklessness.
- Interpersonal/social – Gambling strains relationships, especially if you are dealing with people who are not interested in gambling. In an attempt to minimize conflicts in relationships, a gambling addict will often isolate himself from friends and family members. When interactions with these caring people do occur, they are often wrought with arguments about gambling, lying, justifying, or denial.
Gambling Addiction Treatment
Depending on the severity of your gambling addiction, the following are options you can pursue:
- 12-step programs – These programs are particularly effective if you are in the early stages of addiction, or if you have completed a comprehensive treatment program and want help avoiding relapse.
- Outpatient treatment – Addiction is a disease that you can learn to recover from with the right type of counseling and support services. Continuing your recovery is a great way to prevent relapse.
- Inpatient treatment – While you may not need medically-supervised detox for your gambling addiction, you do need to learn how to identify triggers that cause cravings that lead to your gambling. You need to understand what is feeding your addiction and learn ways to avoid these triggers or work through them. Your addictive life is focused on meeting the needs of your addiction, but you now need to learn how to live a life of recovery, which inpatient treatment is designed to do.