Over the last decade or so, online gambling has become a very popular form of entertainment among people from all countries and nationalities. The majority of casino players gamble merely for recreation and consider gambling an enjoyable form of entertainment. Yet, there are those who reach a stage when they are unable to control themselves. Their gambling activities soon turn into a problem that leads to serious disruptions in their personal and professional lives.
It is important to remember gambling should be fun and entertaining. If you feel like you are starting to exhibit signs of compulsive gambling, we urge you to read on for more information on where to seek help and support.
Reasons for Compulsive Gambling
Compulsive gambling, also referred to as pathological gambling or gambling disorder, is a disorder which causes a person to gamble uncontrollably without taking into consideration the negative impact gambling has on their social and professional life. It is of utmost importance to understand this is a form of addiction, much like alcohol and drug abuse, because it stimulates the brain’s reward system in a similar manner.
Various genetic, biological and social factors may contribute to the development of a gambling addiction but there is no definite answer to the question what precisely causes this problem. Mental disorders like depression and anxiety are often common among people who gamble uncontrollably.
Sex may also be a factor since various studies have indicated gambling pathologically is more common among men than women. Certain prescription medications are also believed to trigger compulsive behaviors in people, gambling included. The family environment and one’s personality characteristics can increase the risks of developing one such problem.
Many people are left with the false impression players who exhibit such behavior gamble out of greed or because they are in urgent need of money. This is often not the case because many compulsive gamblers would engage in betting activities regardless of whether they are broke or well-to-do financially.
To some, gambling is a form of escapism which helps them deal with personal issues in the same manner others resort to alcohol consumption. The bottom line is this can gradually transform into a serious issue that can severely disrupt one’s life when ignored.
Symptoms of Compulsive Gambling
Regardless of what has caused a given person to gamble uncontrollably, people who exhibit such compulsive behaviors often display similar symptoms. Below, we have compiled a short list of the most pronounced signs that you may use as a guideline to determine whether you, a family member or a co-worker exhibits a compulsive gambling behavior.
- Preoccupation with gambling, including excessive thoughts about gambling sessions in the past or about obtaining more money to gamble with
- Inability to stop or cut back on your gambling activities
- An urge to constantly increase the amounts you spend when gambling
- Resorting to gambling when feeling depressed or anxious
- Asking for loans when experiencing financial troubles due to gambling
- Lying to family members and loved ones in an attempt to hide your compulsive gambling
- Losing your job, running up massive debts or resorting to fraud/theft to obtain more gambling money
- Frantically chasing your losses
If you, a friend, or a family member exhibits one or more of these signs, you should immediately seek help to deal with the problem. The trouble with compulsive gamblers is most of them are in denial and refuse to acknowledge their lack of self-control. Many people who gamble compulsively are not even aware they have a problem.
The first step is recognizing and accepting the issue. It would be better to nip it in its bud. If you suspect you are on your way to developing a gambling problem, we strongly recommend you to check the list below to see whether you exhibit some of these risk behaviors:
- Saving money for gambling purposes
- Frequently planning on your next gambling sessions
- Borrowing money from friends and relatives to use for gambling purposes
- Feeling frustrated or stressed when unable to gamble
- Excessively thinking about gambling activities
Help and Support for Compulsive Gamblers
If you have established you have a compulsive gambling problem, there are various groups and organizations that might help you deal with the issue. As with most forms of addiction, recognizing and admitting you have a problem is crucial to adequately dealing with it.
When you stop being in denial, it would be much easier for you to regain control over your life. If you need assistance or advice, we recommend you to turn to one of the following support groups and organizations:
Gamblers Anonymous – www.gamblersanonymous.org
Gamblers Anonymous is an international self-support organization with members from many different countries. The organization offers a twelve-step program for people battling with compulsive gambling. There are no fees in order to obtain a membership and receive help – practically the only requirement you need to meet is the determination to stop gambling.
GamCare – www.gamcare.org.uk
GamCare is a UK-based organization that provides counseling, assistance and support for both current and former gambling addicts and their family members. Counseling is offered online, over the telephone or face to face. The organization also works with gambling operators to ensure they follow adequate responsible-gambling and player-protection policies.
National Council of Problem Gambling – www.ncpgambling.org
NCPG is a US-based organization dedicated to helping problem gamblers and preventing compulsive gambling. It offers counseling and support to people who battle with such issues.
Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario – www.problemgambling.ca
PGIO is a Canadian organization, committed to the research, treatment, and support of people suffering from compulsive gambling. Consultations are available in person or over the telephone.