Addiction is a taboo topic where almost everyone knows an addict but no one wants to talk about it. I am here to end that silence...
What is Compulsive Gambling?
An addiction to gambling is diagnostically referred to as "compulsive gambling", or "gambling disorder". This describes the uncontrollable urge to continue to gamble despite the negative impact it has on your life.
The act of gambling can be particularly alluring because it stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, much like drugs and alcohol do, which leaves a person prone to a gambling addiction.
People who suffer from a gambling addiction find themselves chasing bets to make up for losses, only leaving them further in debt, hiding their gambling behaviors, depleting their financial resources, racking up massive amounts of debt, and even resorting to crime, such as theft, as a way to acquire money with which to gamble.
Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives. Although treating compulsive gambling can be challenging, many people who struggle with compulsive gambling have found help through professional treatment.
Symptoms of Compulsive Gambling
Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) include:
- A preoccupation with gambling, including thinking about gambling constantly, planning ways to acquire more money to gamble, or actually engaging in gambling more often that you would like
- Constantly needing to increase the stakes at which you gamble in order to obtain the same amount of thrill
- Failure to control your gambling, cut back on how much you gamble, or stop gambling completely
- Feeling uneasy or agitated when you cannot gamble or when you try to decrease your gambling
- Using gambling as a way to escape real life problems and feelings of anxiety, depression, or even boredom
- Trying to recoup lost money by increasing the amount with which you gamble
- Being dishonest to those around you about your gambling
- Distancing yourself from loved ones because of your gambling
- Jeopardizing your career because of your preoccupation with gambling
- Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money
- Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away
Living With a Gambling Addiction
I know first hand how difficult it is to deal with a gambling addiction. My drug of choice is poker, specifically no limit hold 'em. I consider myself relatively good at the game. Because it is a game that is not only based on luck, but also skill, confidence in one's ability to play the game can make it even harder to walk away from the table.
What makes life even harder is the ease of access to online gambling in today society. I have several different platforms on my computer and on my phone where I can simply lay in bed, deposit money, and gamble all day, or until my bank account runs dry.
And that is what I do.
I am in the process of seeking treatment for my gambling addiction, but finding treatment centers that provide help for those struggling with this type of addiction is taxing. I have been turned away by so many facilities because of the type of addiction with which I struggle.
Even finding support group meetings, such as gamblers anonymous, seems fruitless. At least, finding in person support groups is fruitless. While it isn't something I have pursued because I prefer the support of in person fellowship, I will say that zoom support meetings are on the rise and are a great source of support for those in need.
Getting Help for Your Gambling Addiction
If you suspect that you have a problem with gambling, it is important to seek out professional support. First, I recommend calling 1-800-Gamblers and seeing what help is available in your area. Contact local therapists, treatment centers, and other professionals who specialize in treating gambling addiction. If you cannot find someone who specializes specifically with gambling, any addiction counselor can help you navigate the path to recovery.
Next, remove the temptation. Most, if not all online gambling sites offer users an option to ban themselves from the site for a specific period of time, or if desired, a permanent lifetime ban that cannot be reversed. By doing this, you are removing the possibility of a relapse as you start on your journey of recovery.