Gambling addiction is recognized in the world psychiatry as a very real impulse control disorder. Compulsive and repeated gambling can wreak havoc on entire families, stripping them of their funds and causing the gambler to feel tremendous guilt and shame. The good news is that numerous treatment strategies exist to help problem gamblers identify and conquer the rationalizations and thought processes that keep them returning to the casino again and again.
Getting a problem gambler to accept their problem, let alone seek treatment, can be incredibly difficult. Like drug addicts, they tend to deny, conceal, and lie about where they’ve been, where the money has gone, and why they are socializing with peers who engage in the questioned behavior. Still, a gambling addiction can be much harder to flush out than alcoholism; gambling addicts show no obvious physical symptoms. As a gambling addiction runs amuck, undetected, it takes tremendous financial toll.
If you’ve consulted this article out of concern about your gambling habits, you very well might have a gambling addiction. To gain some introspection, ask yourself whether one or more of the following behaviors applies to you.
Lying or concealing your gambling habits – Maybe you feel as though others just wouldn’t understand, or you just can’t bear to let them know how much money you have lost. Perhaps you’ve been planning to surprise them with a big win that will make it all okay.
Gambling to feel good – Gambling is a somewhat laid back activity commonly sought out as a means of de-stressing. Addicted gamblers may escape unpleasant situations—arguments, confrontations, etc—abruptly to head out to the casino, often times under the guise that they’re going somewhere else, like a friend’s house or the bar.
The table is a nice social scene (not to mention the booze; addictive outlets often merge in this way). The gambling itself offers feelings of extreme hopefulness that, for many people, can lighten up a long, crummy day even if they win nothing. In reality, the euphoria one gets from gambling is temporary, and only sucks from their overall quality of life, making their stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety even worse, as funds deplete and friends and family become irritated, angry, or just concerned.
Having trouble putting on the brakes – Once you start gambling, you can’t seem to walk away, even though you know—in the back of your mind, at least—that you probably should. Each loss only makes you feel more motivated to keep going, to win back that money. You tell yourself: “Well, I’ve sunk this deep. I might as well keep going, because if I don’t, I lost all that money for nothing.”
Gambling when you’re broke – You’ve become so desperate to recoup your losses through more gambling that you’ve actually begun to dip into bill funds, credit cards, and even money set aside for the children in the family. You’re coming up with ways to make get quickly, like borrowing it from friends, stealing it, or selling your possessions. Anything to get yourself out of the hole.
Concerned family and friends – Even your closest peers are beginning to suspect that your gambling is out of control. They may be angry—angry about all the money wasted and the financial opportunities lost—or they may just be concerned. Either way, they sense a serious problem.
All addictions are stigmatized, and gambling addicts face a special kind of shame. The condition affects mostly the older generation, on which there exists massive pressure to be responsible providers. Admitting to anyone, let alone yourself, that you’ve depleted you and your spouse’s retirement money, your savings, or your children’s college funds is much harder than it is to continue telling yourself, “I’ll win soon or a later.” The reality is that you probably won’t ever win big; your best bet at getting out of the hole is by beating the addiction.
Compulsive gambling is an entirely treatable condition. There exists a range of therapy techniques designed to identify and treat causes for each individual.
Be sure to check out gamblers anonymous to hear testimonials from those who have suffered and overcome the condition. To learn how we can help you here at Hired Power, give us a call at 800-910-9299.