Gambling Addiction? What is it?

The U.K. Gambling Commission’s latest statistics revealed that nearly ½ million people will suffer from a serious gambling problem and almost 2 million are considered at risk from gambling.

Gambling addiction does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, of any race, gender, age etc. Often starts off with a harmless flutter on the horses where it is a bit of fun. Over time it intensifies to where you begin to use it to distract you from your life and your current problems. From then it can quickly escalate to an unhealthy obsession with severe consequences. Your life can spiral out of control.

The major problem with gambling is that unlike substance misuse where when someone is intoxicated, you can often see, smell or hear the signs. Gambling is a hidden problem and can be difficult to detect. With online gambling now where you could download an app on your smartphone. You don’t even need to leave your bed, this has made things easier to gamble but harder to detect. Also, very often you may hide your feelings, lie or get angry when questioned about what’s happening with you. You often may go to great lengths to hide it from other people, even to deny what is happening yourself.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling is a problem, like any other addiction, when it disrupts your life unknowingly or knowingly. Also, when it disrupts other people in your life as well.

  • If you find yourself pre-occupied with thinking about it. You find yourself reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture or thinking of ways to get more money to gamble with.
  • You are chasing losses. Even after loosing money, you will often return another day to try and get your money back.
  • You continue to gamble, even when there are consequences It may be affecting your family, your finances, your emotional health but you can’t stop.
  • You see it as an escape. You need to gamble to escape either past problems or how you are feeling now.
  • You are keeping it a secret. You feel you need to keep your gambling a secret. You might hide how much you gamble and/or when you gamble. Even how much debt you are in.
  • You gamble even if you don’t have the money. Somehow you find it legally or illegally.

How can gambling affect your life?

Financial problems

This is the main reason why people start to get help. Your financial problems can escalate where debts mount up as you take out loans to cover gambling debts. The utility bills might remain unpaid or you might lose your home.

Or you might find it difficult to stop because you are hoping a win will help cover your debts.

 

Family, Friends and Relationships

You may find yourself arguing more with those around you

As you become more pre-occupied with gambling, you begin to pay less attention to those you care about

Being more secretive about what is really happening with you. You may even resort to lying or stealing. This may ruin any trust in your relationships.

 

Mental Health

Problem gamblers are likely to suffer from low self-esteem, chronic or acute stress, anxiety, depression. Some may even develop substance misuse problems that can often lower your inhibitions and trigger you to gamble more and take more risks.

Research says that no other addiction has such a high suicide rate as gambling as around one in five will attempt to take their life. It’s estimated that 18-25 percent of compulsive gamblers will attempt suicide.

 

Physical Health

Gambling does not directly affect you physically like alcohol or drugs. However, there are indirect consequences of the emotional stress you find yourself in on your body. Many gamblers develop constant headaches, insomnia, poor appetite, high blood pressure. All can lead to heart disease and strokes. These are magnified if gamble as well as misuse substances.

What can you do about it?

There are some Cognitive Behaviour techniques you can use to help manage the symptoms of your addiction. There are practical steps you can take to stop it from escalating further.

In addition to that, I believe that gambling problems are just a symptom of what is happening to you and it is the underlying issues that triggered it in the first place is what also needs to be attended to. The first step therefore is to try and understand why the addiction developed in the first place. This could be a number of things and not necessarily the result of a traumatic childhood.

As working through the underlying issues, and providing some CBT techniques, I will work holistically supporting you in rebuilding your life, educating you with tools on how to live your life happily beyond gambling.

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