Reviewed by Aaron Horn, LMFT
WHAT IS GAMBLING ADDICTION?
Despite being one of the least publicized forms of addiction, gambling addiction is a serious problem and deserves more attention. This neurological disorder is a serious behavioral addiction, and the fact that it is not reliant on external chemicals does not make it any less powerful or difficult to shake.
Unlike some other addiction types, a gambling problem is often difficult to identify because gambling (for the most part) is a legal activity. But there comes a time when gambling, legal or not, moves from a hobby or pastime to a serious problem. This is what is known as gambling addiction, also known as problem gambling. It is in cases like this that it’s important to realize what help is available.
In today’s world of technology, gambling is becoming easier and easier. With increasingly lax gambling laws (especially in sports betting) and access to gambling becoming more and more digital and available on our phones, it is difficult to heal from a gambling addiction.
What Is The Gambling Addiction Hotline?
The Gambling Addiction Hotline or the National Problem Gambling Helpline provides vital assistance for those struggling. However, knowing when to seek help isn’t always clear, especially if you are the one who is struggling. In this article, we will walk through when it might be time to seek help from the Gambling Addiction Hotline.
If you think that you or a loved one might be suffering from a gambling addiction, we’re here to help. It’s important to remember that there is nothing shameful about seeking help for any form of addiction, gambling included. You must recognize when you have a problem so that you can effectively address it.
Follow this link to see if you are facing a gambling addiction. The link will direct you to a free diagnostic test that may help you to understand if this is a problem for you or someone you know.
- When You Notice That You Are Hiding Your Gambling From Loved Ones
Someone suffering from a gambling addiction might seek to hide their gambling from others for a number of reasons. Trying to avoid the surprise reaction someone else might have to a big win is a common justification for hiding how much you are gambling. Another common reason is that you may fear others’ judgment and think that they will misunderstand your gambling habit. Feeling shame or remorse about your gambling is another symptom of gambling addiction and encourages hiding your problem from others.
- If You Are Gambling When You Cannot Spare The Extra Income, Or Relying On Risky Behaviors Fund Your Gambling
This particular scenario presents large problems for those suffering from an addiction to gambling. If legal troubles are to arise for gambling addicts, this is often where it starts.
Asking to borrow money from friends and family is a key sign that they might be gambling problem. Taking out a loan to fund a gambling habit is another telltale sign that someone has a gambling problem.
If the addiction is serious enough, gambling addicts often turn to “loan sharks” to take out a loan. This occurs when the addicted person cannot take out a loan from a more reputable source like a bank.
Stealing others’ possessions to sell or selling one’s own is also common among those who are gambling when they can’t afford it. These behaviors frequently lead to serious legal trouble for the gambler (and in some cases, their loved ones as well), so it is important to recognize this sign when you see it.
Remember, though, gambling problems and gambling addiction exist even when a person can financially afford it. Gambling addiction is never just a financial problem. It stems from other issues and has the ability to create more issues too.
- If You Realize That You Gamble Even When You Know It’s Not A Good Idea, And Your Impulse To Gamble Becomes Uncontrollable
Not being able to control when you gamble is what’s known as compulsive gambling. Gambling addiction is similar to other addictions like drug addiction and alcohol addiction in this way.
Compulsive gambling can manifest in a few different ways, and it doesn’t always look the same. One example of compulsive gambling is when someone starts to gamble and is then unable to stop. Or, compulsive gambling can be a string of gambling losses in a row, each trying to recover the losses from the last. Gambling addicts often get sucked into this hole. They feel beaten down by their losses and think that the only way out of debt is to gamble more.
- If Other People Are Directly Or Indirectly Mentioning Your Gambling To You
As is the case with most addictions, a first step in fighting your addiction is to admit that the addiction is there in the first place. If you find that others are bringing up your gambling habits in conversation or generally expressing their concerns to you about your gambling, it’s time to seriously think about whether or not you have a problem.
People in your life will likely be hesitant to bring up their concerns with you, so it is common for the concern to come indirectly. Be aware of when someone might be skirting around the issue of your gambling addiction because they are unsure of how to bring it up with you directly.
- If You Experience Symptoms Of Withdrawal When You Are Not Gambling
Like how we said that gambling addiction was like a drug and/or alcohol addiction in that it can be compulsive, someone with a gambling addiction can also experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not actively gambling.
Mood swings, general irritability, trouble sleeping, and sex drive changes are all common symptoms of withdrawal.
Anxiety symptoms, bipolar symptoms, and depression symptoms are also all symptoms of gambling addiction.
- If Your Gambling Is Accompanied By Other Mental Health Problems, Such As Substance Abuse, Depression, Or Anxiety.
As with most other addictions, gambling addiction is often not an isolated incident. It can lead to other problems.
A gambling addiction can also be caused by other problems too. Alcohol addiction is heavily linked to gambling addiction. Someone who already suffers from alcohol addiction might find himself or herselfturning to gamble when they are drinking. Similarly, someone suffering from a gambling addiction can easily rely on alcohol as a coping method after either a big win or a big loss. Gambling addictions also often cause an anxiety disorder or make those other issues worse for those who already suffer from other mental health problems.
How To Get Help
Like we mentioned earlier, we are here to help you get the help that you need. If you are suffering from a gambling addiction, there are lots of different ways to get help.
One great option is to join a support group. The kind of support groups that exist for other forms of addiction, Like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), exist for gambling addiction, too. These groups hold meetings, much like the traditional AA meetings, to form a supportive group of peers that help you work through your gambling addiction.
Other services exist, too, like the National Problem Gambling Helpline. The National Problem Gambling Helpline prides itself on treating those they assist with respect and providing them with credible resources. They offer a 24 hour fully confidential helpline that can be reached at 1-800-522-4700. In addition to the calling helpline, there is also a live chat feature they provide on their website and the ability to seek help via text.
It is important to recognize that medical professionals can also help in treating gambling addictions. Through either online counseling or in-person counseling, you can speak with someone who specializes in your condition and can help you form healthier habits.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMSHA, is a part of our federal government and has its own resources. They also have a nationwide hotline that you can call to receive help. SAMSHA can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The SAMSHA hotline provides services for all kinds of problems, not just gambling addiction. Calling the SAMSHA hotline can help get you connected with the professional services you need.
If you think you may be suffering from Gambling Addiction, take our online test. Remember, there is nothing to be ashamed of in acknowledging that you have a gambling problem. Doing so takes incredible amounts of strength and courage. No matter what you may think or how it may sometimes feel, there will always be people who love you, support you, and want to help you. At the end of the day, the most important thing is not being afraid to seek help when you need it.