Humans can become addicted to many different behaviors and gambling is no exception. Many people are able to gamble recreationally with little to no lasting effects. However, others find the thrill of gambling addictive and return to it time and again despite incurring great costs in terms of their relationships, financial security and general wellbeing.
What is Gambling?
There are a variety of ways and reasons a person gambles. While many people do gamble without causing significant problems, some develop problem gambling. Problem gambling is defined as causing harm to the gambler or someone else, like a family member. Even though a person may want to stop, the initial behavior leads to the more serious, compulsive gambling. When someone struggles with compulsive gambling it causes problems in multiple areas of his or her life.
Bingo, lottery tickets, casino games, online poker, and going to the racetrack are all examples of gambling. Obviously, not everyone who gambles becomes addicted. There is no easy formula for determining who develops an addiction to gambling. Studies have indicated, however, that it is a combination of environmental, genetic, and biological factors.
Determining a Gambling Problem
How do you know if you have a more serious gambling problem? The following list of signs indicates the potential for gambling problems:
Studies have found that between two and four percent of Americans are problem gamblers. Gambling problems, according to some researchers, are more prevalent than alcohol dependence.
Access and Impact
Gambling is more prevalent than ever before because people have constant access to the thrill of the behavior through the Internet. Beginning to gamble at an early age also increases the risk of developing gambling problems later in life. Addictions are more common in men and those of lower socioeconomic status. Like any addiction, compulsive gambling affects other aspects of life.
Help and Hope
A compulsive gambling addiction does not need to be the last round in the game of life. There are many professional treatment options as well as support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. You can also ask your doctor or a mental health professional for support. Before your first appointment, prepare yourself by considering these questions and steps:
Freedom from a compulsive gambling addiction is possible and available to you. Learning and maintaining alternative ways of coping with life will help aid in the recovery process. To start, you can make a list of all the risks you take when you gamble. Are the costs to you and your loved ones outweighing the potential benefits? Those with a compulsive gambling addiction will more than likely answer yes to this question.
Finally, remind yourself there is no shame in asking for help. Determination and will power are often not powerful enough to overcome the gambling impulse, and you are not alone in this struggle. Help is available, along with the hope of a better life. The benefits of taking control over gambling addictions of all levels are exceedingly more valuable than any payout.