Behind the glitzy and adrenaline-pumping world of gambling, there’s a dark side too. While it’s quite titillating to see yourself winning your bets, all of this can affect you negatively if you’re not careful about your gambling habits and don’t carry out this activity in moderation. Gambling addiction is real, and it also takes a toll on people with nerves of steel. Regardless of how much you say you know when to stop your gambling, it can get out of hand pretty quickly.
So, what is gambling addiction? And how can you keep yourself safe from it? Moderate gambling is a socially acceptable activity. The issue arises when people fail to keep their urges under control. And how does that happen? When you start gambling, the initial kick is quite satisfying. But then, there comes a time when you keep betting even though you have enough evidence to believe that the odds are not in your favor. Similarly, you will keep yourself in the game when you know you cannot afford to lose.
Some cases show gambling addiction could result from an underlying medical condition. People with ADHD, bipolar disorder, stress, or depression are more prone to falling prey to this addiction that clings to a person like a blood-sucking leech.
Signs And Symptoms Of Addiction
How can you tell if your friend or family has this dangerous addiction? Medical experts have listed down several common symptoms that will help you identify whether a person needs help:
Secretive About Gambling
When people start going off the path, their friends and family try to intervene to restore their addiction. Many gamblers often try to escape the watchful eyes of their loved ones and are secretive about their activities. They will lie and try to avoid the questions thrown at them.
Trouble Controlling The Gambling Habit
Sensible gambling means that you know when is the time to stop. If you’re losing all your bets constantly, you’ll put an end to it for some time. However, if you have an addiction, you’ll keep placing more bets in hopes that you’ll win eventually.
Getting Obsessed With Gambling
Is gambling on your mind all the time? Are you always finding tips to make your games more thrilling? These signs indicate that your gambling habit has crossed the addiction border and that you need help! Your life shouldn’t revolve around gambling – it’s a game that must be an insignificant part of your overall activities.
Lying To Family Members
When the gambling habit gets dangerous, family and friends will try to stop you from placing more bets. Gamblers, on the other hand, will avoid talking to their friends so that they can’t stop them from playing. They will lie and make excuses to keep their family off their backs. It’s easy to detect when a person is lying. Concerned family members should try to nag a little to find out if the person is too deep in their addiction and whether they need help.
Restless When Not Gambling
Have you ever witnessed withdrawal symptoms in a person? When smokers quit, they feel a little restless in the first few weeks. People who consciously choose to pause their gambling activities may observe symptoms like restlessness or become more irritable for as long as they’re being kept from their activity. It also indicates that a much larger problem may need proper care. In that case, it’s advisable to seek help. Friends and family must convince the person to see a professional
Important Note: These signs are the common ones that most gamblers show. However, it doesn’t mean that you should rely solely on these symptoms to determine whether you have this addiction. It’s better to visit a psychiatrist and psychologist as early as possible – whenever you feel this activity is taking a lot of your time and affecting your other activities.
Only a trained professional can make an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, gambling addiction could result from some other underlying medical conditions. It’s important to get yourself checked by a medical expert. Follow their tips and help yourself break free from the addiction/condition.
What Causes Gambling Addiction?
There’s no single factor responsible for gambling addiction in Singapore; several factors are at play here. While some experts think that family gambling behavior could be a factor behind this addiction, nothing can be said with certainty. There is not enough evidence to support this theory. Experts have various theories on it. Some believe that a person’s pre-existing medical condition plays a big role in making them addicted to this activity. At the same time, some view that a person’s initial wins play a role in gambling addiction. Here are some factors that may lead to this addiction.
Medical experts say that a gambling win produces a neurological response. People get excited when they see themselves winning high amounts, and they keep placing bets in hopes of getting the same level of joy. This reaction is the same as the one caused by, say, a dose of the drug.
Compulsive behaviors are often related to problems with your brain chemistry. It may be because of deficiencies in certain chemicals, such as norepinephrine and serotonin. Certain genetic factors are also involved, which make a person more prone to gambling addiction.
Certain psychological factors have an impact on a person’s gambling patterns. There is a concept called the Monte Carlo fallacy – usually known as the Gambler’s fallacy. It defines how a person perceives the outcome of their bet. Suppose a person buys a lottery ticket and loses. They repeat the process five times more. Now, for the sixth lottery ticket, the probability of winning is the same as that of the previous time – 50%. But the person will mistakenly think that since they have lost the last five times, they will win the sixth time. They think the odds will somehow be in their favor to make up for their losses. As a result, they buy another lottery ticket in hopes of winning.
Such factors also play a big role in turning gambling habits into hard-core addiction. Then there are people with superstitious beliefs. They’ll keep playing if they think that luck is on their side (for whatever reason). These factors don’t get resolved independently, and a person will have to consult a professional to overcome the habit.
Multiple social factors often compel people to get addicted to rather dangerous and harmful habits. Problems at home or the workplace are a big reason for a person getting trapped in gambling. People already dealing with several stressful conditions find themselves placing bets on gambling sites to take their minds off the current stressor. But as they start enjoying the process, they get too involved, struggling to get out of it.
Other factors like reduced social life also play a big role in gambling addiction. During the early years of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people developed the habit of gambling partly because they had nothing else to do. Prolonged at-home restrictions made people more prone to adopting gambling as a pastime habit.
People with issues like drug or substance use are more prone to developing a gambling addiction. They give up this habit when their main issues are resolved.
Types Of Gamblers
The effects of gamblers will not be the same for everyone. Here are some of the most common types of gamblers:
This condition is also called pathological gambling. Compulsive gamblers continue to place bets without worrying about the consequences – winning or losing doesn’t matter to them. They also look for ways to place bets. Their obsession is usually high – they’re always thinking about gambling.
These people may continue their gambling habits without showing any problematic symptoms. They show signs of compulsive gambling whenever they play (even if they play less frequently). They also seem to be in control of their problem when they aren’t.
These gamblers face problems that disturb their personal life. They tend to lie to their family and keep playing secretly. The secretive part is the first thing that indicates there might be a problem.
How To Stop Gambling Addiction?
The first step is to acknowledge that you have a gambling problem. Many people remain in denial and deprive themselves of a chance to improve their health. In some cases, people keep quiet because of the shame they have. But help won’t come on its own. You’ll have to make an effort to get your life back on track. And it can only be done if you’re ready to ask for help. Here are some ways that can assist you in getting rid of your gambling addiction.
Seek Professional Help
Licensed therapists and professional experts are your best bet. They have all the tools to help you beat the addiction. Also, when it comes to therapy, you have to show patience. Addiction therapy takes time, and you’ll have to go with the flow. Give yourself time to heal. Be honest with your therapist and help them figure out the triggers that have led to your addiction. Regular therapy sessions are crucial to getting rid of the problem.
The sooner you go to a therapist, the better it will be for you. Sometimes, gambling addiction is a symptom of an even bigger underlying problem. Your time with the therapist will also allow you to tackle your past traumas. If you’re using gambling to fill the void in your life, your therapist will tell you how you can shift to healthy activities. Also, gambling itself isn’t a bad activity. So, you can also discuss with a professional how to keep the activity within a healthy range.
There are many licensed therapists who will be willing to take your case. All you have to do is seek help!
While there aren’t any specific medicines for gambling addiction, there are certain psychotic medicines that can help reduce the “high” you feel everything you win bets. But when it comes to medicines, you have to be extra careful. First, you shouldn’t take any drug without a doctor’s prescription. Second, if you’re on medicines, you should still seek therapy to find the root cause of your addiction and work towards solving it. Medicines will only help reduce the thrill you feel every time you enter a gambling game. But therapy is beneficial when dealing with the cause of the problem.
Do you think you’re the only one who faces this problem? First thing first, you’re not alone! Many people struggle with their addictions and often fail to keep them under control. Some people don’t have a strong support system to pull themselves out of their mess. But they shouldn’t feel all alone. There are support groups for gamblers where you can meet people dealing with the same problem and discuss solutions. Also, if you have supportive friends or family, you should talk to them about the problems and ask for help. There’s no denying that your friends’ support can help you say goodbye to your addiction for good.
How Does Addiction Impact You?
There are so many ways in which a gambling addiction proves to be lethal for you. Here are some of them:
The first major blow that gambling addiction has is on your finances. Not only do you lose your hard-earned money, but you also push yourself into neck-deep debt. When you place bets with money you never had, you push yourself toward a big financial commitment: arranging funds to repay the loan you took to place bets. It doesn’t matter how small your bets are. The fact that you’re willingly pushing yourself toward loans is disturbing. Also, when you spend your money on gambling, you do so by sacrificing other important expenses. You may default on your bills or fail to buy some important item. If gambling starts affecting your finances, it’s time you say goodbye. It’s important to clarify here that even though gambling addiction has a huge impact on your finances, the mere fact that gambling is not hurting your budget should not mean that your gambling habit is not nearing addiction. People with a strong financial background may not be highly affected by their gambling addiction, but it doesn’t mean that their problem is small. They will still need help to break free from the addiction.
How does it feel to have the constant burden of arranging money on your mind? How does it look when you keep worrying about whether or not you’ll get a chance to recover your losses? Regardless of how much a person says their gambling activity is not hurting them, too much of anything could be harmful. If you feel you have a hard rock placed on your head all the time, it’s time you rethink your life. It may indicate that you need professional help to fix the problem. Mental health issues caused by gambling may also take a toll on your career. The problem is so grave that it can push people towards severe depression or suicide.
People who cannot give time to their partner, family, or friends will eventually lose their near and dear ones. If you’re too involved in gambling, there will come a time when people start losing contact. Initially, it won’t matter to you. But with time, you’ll feel the loneliness caused by your actions. Addictions break families and push people away from their friends and loved ones. It’s always recommended to get help as soon as possible to keep yourself protected against the social costs of addiction/gambling.
How To Help Someone Dealing With Gambling Addiction?
It’s difficult to see your loved one going through an addiction, which slowly eats them away. Regardless of how they behave with you, it’s important to understand that those people may need your help. If you know someone who is dealing with a gambling addiction, here’s how you can help them:
You may have an idea about what intervention means. You see someone fighting their battles alone, and you confront them. You tell them that you understand that things are getting a little out of control and that you’re there to help them in whatever way you can. Such interventions help the struggling person share their problems.
In such cases, it’s important to be a patient listener. Give the person some time to fully understand what the problem is and that they have some support.
Suicide Prevention Center
It’s an uncomfortable truth, but it’s a reality: many gamblers consider ending their lives because they can’t deal with the pressures that their addiction keeps putting on them. You can help them. Find out the official suicide helpline number in your area and call them if you think your loved one is in need. All centers have trained staff members who know how to bring the situation under control and prevent the person from taking such grave steps.
How To Break Free From Gambling Addiction?
You may think that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for you, but there’s a green side after all. There are some tips that can help people put their gambling activities under control. However, these tips aren’t an alternative to professional help/therapy. After following your therapist’s advice, you may follow these tips diligently to get rid of the addiction:
Delete All Gambling Apps
Online gambling apps have made it easier for people to place bets whenever they want. While this convenience is good, it shouldn’t be exploited. Many people struggle when it comes to reducing their app usage. The best option for you is to delete all apps. Certain software helps you block gambling websites on your computer too. Such extreme steps are necessary to keep you safe and ensure you don’t remain stuck in the vicious cycle of gambling.
Adopt Any Healthy Habit
You need free time to sit down and gamble. What if you get no time to gamble? The idea behind this strategy is to get involved in some activity to such an extent that it doesn’t leave you free. You can try reading books or learning a new skill. The activity should take up a good amount of hours. You can also consider enrolling yourself in a gym class. All you have to do is to fill up the time you spend on gambling with something productive. It is even more important in cases where you have to stay at home for quite some time. Since you won’t have anywhere to be, your screen time will increase, leading to more online game. So, it’s better to avoid things that may affect you negatively.
Listen To Motivational Videos
Yes, they help a lot. We often wrongly believe that there’s no one in this world who understands our problems. It isn’t the case. There are countless people who struggle with their demons. Some of them share their stories and discuss how they emerged out of darkness and into a new dawn. Listen to these people and take inspiration. You’ll be surprised to find out the number of people who face tough times in their lives. It’s okay to feel lost. But it’s important to get your life together. And only you can take full responsibility for your life.
Ask Your Friends To Manage Your Finances
Are you unable to stop yourself from spending money on wagers? You should seek the help of friends and family. Hand over your list of expenses and income to them and ask them to help you understand how you can manage your money better. A third person is in a better position to explain to you how crucial it is to spend your money productively.
Gambling addiction kills hope and makes people lose confidence. Not only does it cause monetary losses – which are recoverable to some extent – but it also breaks relationships. It’s extremely crucial then to take corrective measures to put an end to your addiction.
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