Sometimes known as pathological, compulsive or problem gambling, a gambling addiction isn’t like other addictions. Rather, it’s an impulse control disorder, and it can affect almost anyone at any time.
Today’s society makes gambling easily accessible to everyone. Whether we’re placing bets on our mobile phones at home, or we’re in a 24-hour high street betting shop, the opportunity to gamble is everywhere. For someone suffering from a gambling addiction, then, quitting can be extremely difficult.
To many, the sport of gambling is harmless. It’s an occasional night out at the casino, or it’s placing a wager on an animal race or at a sporting event, all in the name of entertainment. However, like other impulse control disorders such as pornography and sex, gambling can quickly become a necessity. It can be used as a way to cope and deal with life, and many will turn to gambling as a way of escaping their hardships.
Gambling is characterised by an uncontrollable urge to take risks. This can present itself in many different areas in life. Aside from the obvious channels like bookmakers and casinos, gambling addiction can manifest itself in a wide range of pursuits such as stocks and shares, new business ventures, theft and even property.
Unfortunately, when we win big and we are rewarded with a rush of endorphins, the desire for bigger and better takes hold and the addict can quickly lose their grip on reality. It short, this sport of harmless fun can rapidly turn into a compulsive need.
Like almost all addictions, denial is the ultimate enemy for overcoming a gambling addiction. Because of denial, many people descend into the self-perpetuating cycle of destruction. Addicts lose interest in other aspects of their lives and neglect the upkeep of close relationships with family and friends. They stop eating well and forget to take care of their mind and body. Consequently, an addiction like gambling can lower self-worth and increase the risks of mental ailments like depression, anxiety and loneliness.
There’s nothing wrong with thrill seeking. The term ‘adrenaline junky’ should not be perceived in a negative light.
However, when the desire to take large risks goes from calculated to uncalculated, and there’s a bigger loss than there is gain, gambling can become a major problem.
Adrenalin is an essential hormone secreted during stressful or dangerous situations. It’s the reason we cliff jump, skydive and swim with sharks. To a controlled degree, it is a normal part of life and it can be pleasurable to experience. But when the desire for adrenalin leaves our control, it’s time to see professional help.
As with all addictions, nothing is as satisfying as the first time, and we begin to build a tolerance to the effects of something like gambling. Consequently, we must take a greater degree of risk each time to feel the same rush of endorphins. For a problem gambler, that means betting more money on more risky odds, which ultimately will lead to big losses.
Gambling addiction can manifest itself in a person in various ways. For many, it might give them major highs and help them feel more alive.
For others, it will cause anxiety and depression. The symptoms of gambling addiction are, therefore, diverse.
There are, however, a few common traits for anyone addicted to taking large risks. Here are a few physical, emotional and behavioural signs and symptoms to watch for:
It is not uncommon for secondary addictions to appear as a result of an addiction to gambling.
Drug and Alcohol abuse can regularly be adopted as a method to deal with these symptoms, along with mental illnesses including stress, anxiety and depression.
Because gambling is an impulse control disorder, it can also fuel other impulses like sex and pornography. A person who cannot control their impulses might find that they obtain an eating disorder, or that they watch more pornography as a consequence. In short, a lack of control over impulse actions like gambling will cause a lack of control over other impulses, too.
An addiction to gambling can ruin a person’s life. The earlier it is acknowledged and dealt with, the better chance a person has of turning their life around and saving their close relationships.
The most important step to recovery is to try and understand why an addiction has formed in the first place. At Camino, we offer several forms of treatment for problem gambling. Whether it’s from group therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy or through family interventions, we put our all into making sure you get back on the right path and regain control over your desire to gamble.
Start your journey with Camino Recovery today.