What is gambling addiction anyway?
Gambling addiction is typically diagnosed after someone has hit rock bottom when they’re already in too deep and have lost lots of money, ruined relationships, lost their job, etc.
People losing their homes and getting divorced because of gambling are extreme cases, but many have issues ready to turn into severe problems if not dealt with sooner.
This article is about recognising those behaviours early, enabling them to be dealt with promptly.
Here are the signs indicating that someone has a gambling problem and that action is necessary.
Sign 1: Gambling Is Given Precedence
If you’ve consciously decided to prioritise gambling over being at work or spending time with your family, you have a problem.
Gambling is Ok if you can control your time and when you do it. But if you prefer gambling to other activities, you have a gambling problem.
Sign 2: Chasing losses
It’s a familiar feeling to be tempted to chase your losses while gambling, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a good path.
Losing money is frustrating, and you wish you could win it all back, but gambling is unpredictable, and luck plays a significant role.
We all have our good and not-so-good days in gambling. Keeping track of your wins and losses can help you see the bigger picture.
If you’re going in with the single intent to win money back, that is a sign you don’t have control and are chasing your losses. No strategies or goals can deliver wins. It’s all luck!
Step back and start fresh with a new session if you’ve been on a losing streak. Sometimes a fresh start can bring better luck.
Remember, it’s okay to have ups and downs. Don’t be too hard on yourself. The most important thing is to gamble responsibly and control your emotions.
Sign 3: Raising more money for gambling
If you’re considering raising money to invest in gambling instead of buying something for yourself or your family, you’ve got your priorities messed up.
The idea should at least be to make more money to have more money, not to get more money so you can gamble more.
Borrowing money to gamble is a sure sign you’re not in control.
Sign 4: Small bets no longer satisfy you
Bet size inflation – you are playing with progressively larger bets to keep the thrill the same – is a bad sign.
If you’re doing it because you’re on a lucky streak and your playing strategy is working, then great.
However, it’s terrible if you’re not getting a thrill from your average betting amounts or trying to recoup previous losses quickly by increasing your bet sizes.
Sign 5: Lying about gambling
If you ever find yourself lying to a family member or a friend about your gambling activities or/and trying to hide your gambling activities from others, chances are, you have a problem. If everything were alright, you probably wouldn’t have to hide.
Getting defensive about your gambling behaviour also counts. You should be able to freely speak about the games you play and the money you won or lost.
If you can’t, that’s a sign you’re aware you’re doing something wrong or shameful.
Sign 6: Not playing for fun
We all want to win money. That’s why we gamble rather than play the games in demo mode.
But, if playing the game isn’t fun but something that you play with a purpose, to win more money or back money you’ve lost, that’s a huge red flag.
Even if you’re not addicted to gambling, with this mental approach to gambling, you will likely soon be.
Sign 7: Not being able to let go
Having an attitude of winning back money at all costs will lead to gambling addiction and massive losses without fail.
If you think a casino ‘owes you money’ and you go on a quest to win it back, you’ll usually be unsuccessful.
Doing that with a large sum of money will likely cause a massive problem for yourself and your family.
If you can’t let go even after small losses, it might indicate that gambling is not for you. Quit before you find yourself in a situation where you’re planning on how to win it back.
Sign 8: Reading this article
The fact you’re reading this means there may be a reason for concern. If you’re reading this for a family member or a friend, they may have a problem.
If you’ve ended up here because you Googled “Gambling Addiction Signs” or “How do I know I’m Addicted to Gambling”, there’s a strong chance you think you have a problem and are looking for confirmation.
If that’s the case, consider you have a problem and need professional help. Contact GameCare.org as a first step.
Steps to take if someone is a gambling addict
If you think you’re a gambling addict or have the start of a gambling problem, there are some things you can do to help yourself.
The first step is acknowledging your problem: Admit that you might have a gambling addiction. Recognising the issue is the first step towards recovery.Learn more about gambling addiction, its signs, and its impact on individuals and their lives. Understanding the problem can help you make informed decisions.Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or support group, about your concerns. Opening up about your struggles can be difficult, but seeking help is crucial.Consider contacting a mental health professional or a counsellor who specialises in addiction. They can offer guidance, therapy, and strategies to help you overcome the addiction.Self-exclude from gambling venues to limit your access to gambling opportunities.Hand over financial responsibilities to a trusted family member or friend to avoid spending money on gambling.Develop coping mechanisms for stress, boredom, or other triggers that may lead you to gamble. Engage in hobbies, exercise, or spend time with supportive people.If you can’t stop gambling, set strict limits on how much time and money you will allocate.Avoid high-risk situations and places or activities that may trigger your gambling impulses.Be patient and kind to yourself. Recovery from addiction is a process and facing challenges is normal. Be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress, no matter how small.Consider joining a support group for individuals dealing with gambling addiction. Sharing experiences with others who understand what you’re going through can be helpful.Celebrate small victories: Recognise and celebrate every step you take towards overcoming the addiction. Positive reinforcement can keep you motivated.
Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. You don’t have to face the challenge alone. Contact supportive individuals and professionals who can guide you towards a healthier and happier life. Recovery is possible, and resources are available to support you on your journey.
Where to seek help
The National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133), https://www.gamcare.org.uk/, is free and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers face-to-face counselling.
Begambleaware.org is another organisation that has helped people battle gambling addiction for many years.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission also lists other organisations that can help.