stop-gambling-addictionFor someone who has a gambling addiction, it’s not as simple and easy as ‘just walking away’. How do you know if you may be addicted to gambling? Here are some signs:

  • To achieve the same feeling of excitement and adrenaline, you have started to gamble with increasing amounts of moneyWhen trying to cut down or stop gambling, you become irritated and restless
  • Despite several attempts to stop, control or cut back on your gambling, you’ve been unsuccessful
  • Obsessive thoughts about gambling — thinking of the next gambling adventure, reliving past experiences, thinking about how to get more money to gamble
  • When stressed or upset, you turn to gambling
  • Even after losing money — sometimes signifiant amounts of money — you return to ‘chase’ your losses
  • To cancel your gambling activities, you’ve begun to lie
  • Relationships, jobs and other opportunities have been lost or jeopardized because of gambling
  • Turning to others to help with money issues causes by gambling
  • Inability to stop, despite the impact gambling is having on your life

What makes gambling so addictive?

First of all, gambling addictions are not restricted to casinos or poker games. The desire to keep going no matter what the cost can also be trigged by horse racing, football pools, lotto tickets and scratch cards.

The reason this disorder is so addictive is the rush of the hormone dopamine into the brain when you win a hand or spin a straight row on the slot. The chance of winning big, or winning again, triggers the impulse to participate again and again, no matter what the often disastrous outcome might be.  

Most us are pleased to win anything and to walk away with some extra money in our pockets. Someone with a gambling addiction cannot stop — he or she will purchase more chips, take more money out of the ATM, buy more cards and so on. The need to win becomes all consuming and the losses that are mounting lose their power to overcome any resistance.

Why do people gamble even though it destroys their lives?

For some people who are addicted to gambling, there may be episodes, just like with an alcoholic, where the symptoms are reduced and it may seem as if the problem has disappeared. But like any other addiction, the desire to gamble again returns — and sometimes the addiction is even stronger.

There is a tendency for gambling addiction to run in families. It can rear its ugly head anywhere from adolescence to later on in adulthood.

Getting Help

Remember that just like any other addiction, there is treatment available for anyone who thinks they may have a problem with gambling. And as with another addiction, you need to be willing to reach out and ask for help. Please contact us for additional information on this topic or if you need help!