As the world embraces more and more gambling products and activities, a recurring problem cuts across all countries involved.
What is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction or problem gambling is on the rise with more cases reported daily. There is no denying that gambling is a fun activity that many people across the world enjoy as a pass time. You stand a chance of getting some good profit on the money you wager.
The problems start streaming in once this fun activity starts consuming your life. It stops being fun and shifts into an obsession that you can’t control. Every waking minute is spent gambling or thinking about gambling. Addiction has set in when you go out of your way to gamble even when you don’t have the money to do so. You use money designated for other important matters in your life.
The fun is sucked out of it and even those around you get affected by your actions. There have been cases of families losing their properties due to gambling addiction. Gambling becomes your ‘drug’ of choice and every time you engage in it you feel good. It becomes your mission to chase that ‘high’ feeling but it’s never enough or long-lasting.
There is no concrete reason why people start gambling. You might see a friend or family member do it and try it out yourself. Most gambling companies have flashy and attractive advertisements that pull users in with promise or hefty rewards. This is one of the reasons most governments are regulating gambling advertising.
Most people who engage in regular gambling are at risk of getting addicted no matter how they got started. There are those who are more susceptible to addiction than others but that doesn’t mean some are immune. Addiction affects people from all walks of life no matter the gender, race, or age. Having an impulsive nature is one of the triggers of gambling addiction.
Research shows that lower serotonin levels leave gamblers more susceptible to addiction. In case you fall into this category, it’s better to never start engaging in gambling activities. There is evidence that proves you have a higher chance of getting addicted. Your brain function is impaired and all your actions are wild and impulsive.
Genetic predisposition is yet another cause of gambling addiction according to researchers in this field of study. Having a mental disorder or a history of mental health issues in your family puts you at great risk. You are more likely to get addicted to gambling once you start engaging in it regularly. Always know your family history and if there are cases of mental health issues, stay away from any gambling activities. It’s better to not risk it at all.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
There are warning signs and symptoms to look out for in a gambling addict.
- Compulsive Nature
You can’t stop gambling or thinking about it no matter how hard you try. At this point, you need help to stop gambling since you are addicted. Every time you promise you won’t, you gamble again and again.
- Reduced Productivity
At work, all you do is gamble or think of gambling which greatly affects your productivity. It might get to a point where you are laid off or your business suffers. You can’t seem to give what matters the required focus and attention. This results in low productivity that affects all aspects of your life.
- Constant Lies
The lies become bolder and frequent to friends, family, colleagues, bosses among others. Each time you lie you must cover that lie with another one. It becomes second nature to lie about your whereabouts and what you are up to. Deep down you know gambling is wrong but can’t help but engage in it. The lies come in handy to cover your tracks.
Tips to Overcoming Gambling Addiction
As in any other addiction, the road to recovery is long and tough. It calls for all your will power and dedication every step of the way.
- Avoid Idleness
Most people start gambling as a way to pass time. You are not doing anything so you decide to get to the casino or log in online and start playing games. Finding other activities to do with your free time is the best decision you can make. The best way to recover from addiction is to avoid being idle. It’s when you have nothing to do that the mind drifts back to old habits.
Take up a hobby or another fun and positive activity that can give you better outcomes. You end up feeling as good as you did while gambling. It can be a sport that you engage in your free time and gives you satisfaction. Addiction is not easy to stop but once you do, the work begins to refrain from relapsing. Engaging in positive activities in your free time or a new hobby is a sure way to remove idleness from the equation.
- New friends
If you started gambling due to the influence of certain people in your life, do all you can to stay away from them. Chances are they are still engaged in old habits and won’t be willing to stop for you. Hanging around them as you did before only lands you into temptations. In some cases, it might be hard to avoid them since you might be living or working with them. But you must find a way to keep your life occupied and avoid spending free time with them.
Addiction is a chronic illness and chances or relapse are high under the right circumstances. Every recovering addict has to protect their journey selfishly because it’s easy to fall back into old patterns and habits. Hanging out with the same people you gambled with is a recipe for disaster.
- Move to a New Location and Switch Jobs
You might be required to completely change your life if you are to stop gambling and cope with recovery. If your co-workers were the ones to influence you into gambling, find a way to switch jobs. More likely the habits in the office have not changed. This puts you in the path of temptation every time you get to work. It’s best to shift from this environment and you can even opt to start afresh somewhere else.
Change plays a vital role in recovery. You stand a better chance of recovering from gambling addiction if you don’t do the same things you did before. Move to a new house or town. Start over and rebuild your life. That feeling of accomplishment with every step you take is a better high and is fulfilling.
- Join a Support Group
Gambling Anonymous (GA) groups are available in all towns and cities. Nowadays you can even attend a meeting online while live streaming. A support group plays a vital role in overcoming gambling addiction.
Addiction is classified as a chronic illness today and similar to others, it has no cure. The best way to keep it at bay is to master how to cope with it. When you attend a support group, you find a safe place to express how you feel.
Having other people there going through the same experiences is a vital part of recovery. You are not alone in this and shouldn’t deal with it on your own. Find a GA meeting near you and start attending.
Even if you are still gambling, the fact that you have identified you have a problem is a crucial step. Attending the meetings puts you on the right track and gets you the help that you so desperately need.
- Get a Sponsor
With attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings, one thing you are encouraged to do is get a sponsor. This is a person who has been where you are and knows how to cope.
They are on their recovery path and have experiences that come in handy as you start on yours. A good sponsor has a year or two of recovery under their belt and knows how tough it is to start.
They are always available to help you every step of the way. One reason most people relapse is lack of support. You might attend a GA meeting but need a more personal touch, especially when starting out or going through a tough time. It’s not easy to open up to everyone.
A sponsor is the best when it comes to personal matters surrounding your gambling addiction recovery. At the GA meeting, ask for a recommendation or take your time to pinpoint who is better suited to be your sponsor. You need someone that you can trust and feel safe to be open and honest with.
- Know your Triggers
What drove you into gambling in the first place? Was it influence from the people in your life? Was it certain types of advertisements? Was it greed and wanting to get money quickly? Identify why you started gambling and deal with that trigger. More often than not triggers are around you every waking day. If you put yourself in the same situations as before, it gets hard to beat gambling addiction.
Gambling starts out innocently as a pass time but can become addictive with time. If you are addicted then it’s best to take steps to handle it. it won’t be easy, but it can be done.