Things to Know About Gambling Addiction
If you think that gambling cannot possibly be addictive, please think again. While it’s true that most people can bet on a horse race, make a wager with friends, or participate in a bingo game now and then without becoming compulsive, the fact of the matter is that many people can and do become dependent on the thrill that gambling provides.
What is gambling addiction?
Mayo Clinic describes gambling addiction as the uncontrollable urge to continue wagering no matter the consequences to one’s own personal life. When a person is addicted to gambling, they may empty their bank accounts, go into debt and perhaps even resort to thievery to support their gambling habit.
What are the symptoms of gambling addiction?
Although each compulsive gambler is different, there are several typical signs to watch out for.
- Concealing or lying about how much or how often they gamble
- Using games of chance to alleviate feelings of depression or low self image
- Feelings of guilt and remorse after a gambling session
- Sneaking away from work or avoiding family obligations in order to gamble
- Borrowing or stealing money to use for wagering
Which games can be addictive?
Any game that offers a thrill and a chance to win money can become a Gambling problem if overdone. Football wagering, horse betting, roulette, scratch cards and online bingo are all known to be addictive to certain personality types. People may become addicted to live casino betting or online gaming.
What sort of person is at risk of becoming an addicted gambler?
The truth is, anyone can become addicted to the thrill of gaming. A compulsive gambler may be an upstanding businessman who won big one time while ‘playing the ponies’ and seeks to recreate that rare event while spending an extraordinary amount of time away from the office and betting money he cannot afford to lose. Some compulsive gamblers are stay-at-home moms who spend an inordinate amount of time and money playing online bingo to the detriment of her family. Most people do not become addicted after one positive gaming experience, but it can and does happen.
Persons with certain mood disorders such as clinical depression, anxiety, substance abuse issues, low self esteem or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be more prone to gambling compulsivity than those without.
Age and gender may be risk factors, as well. Mayo Clinic says that the most common group of addicted gamblers are young to middle-age males. Experts also note that females are swiftly catching up with men, although they tend to become addicted to gambling games such as bingo later in life than their male counterparts.
Personality may influence a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to gambling. People who are highly competitive, easily bored or a ‘workaholic’ may find themselves unable to stop gambling, even when continuing the behavior causes havoc in their personal or business life.
Certain medications can increase a person’s chances of becoming a gambling addict. For instance, a class of medicine known as ‘dopamine agonists’ come with an adverse side effect that causes some people to experience an overwhelming urge to place wagers. Doctors don’t yet know why this is, but the medications with this disconcerting side effect are typically those used to treat Parkinson’s disease and Restless Leg syndrome.
Is help available to treat gambling addiction?
Yes, there is. If you or someone you care about evinces signs of gambling addiction, help is out there. In the UK, your best bet (sorry for the pun) is to contact the support organisation GamCare. Recommended by the NHS, GamCare offers in-person counseling as well as a 24-hour hotline at 0808 8020 133.