How to Recognize a Gambling Addiction

If you’re struggling to figure out whether to get help for a gambling addiction – whether for yourself or for someone you love – there’s one way to know for sure. If gambling is causing problems in your life, particularly financial stress and worry, then it may be time to get help.

The cycle of addiction can develop with just about anything. If someone experiences a certain pleasure with drugs or alcohol or a behavior, such as gambling or shopping, it’s that pleasure that one becomes addicted to. In the same way, someone can become addicted to the high of getting drunk or the euphoria of using cocaine. With gambling, there’s a thrill that comes with winning. And this might be especially true if you’re someone who lived without money growing up or who is living without money now. For those who haven’t ever experienced having money, winning big can feel like flying – it can be a great high. It’s this high that slowly creates the addiction.

Just like any addiction, this high can keep someone gambling again and again. In fact, one of the symptoms of addiction is a person begins to seek out the high. They slowly develop compulsory behaviors that keep them returning to gambling again and again. And in time, the consequences of gambling might get worse and worse. Because sadly, a person doesn’t win each time. In fact, they might start losing more than winning.

The following are red flags to look for if there is suspicion that you or someone you know might be developing a gambling addiction:

  • Selling personal belongings.
  • Borrows money and does not return the loan.
  • Stealing and lying to friends and family.
  • Possessing large amounts of money without good explanation.
  • Possessing a great deal of debt.
  • Receiving a number of phone calls from strangers.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Growing absences from school or work.
  • Making frequent calls to 900 gambling numbers.
  • Spending large amounts of hours online.

One thing to note is that a person who is recovering from another addiction – such as with alcohol or drugs – might turn to gambling as a means to feel better. They might tell themselves that as long as they stay sober, then everything is fine. And it might be easier to hide a gambling addiction, even if it gets bad.

Yet, even if someone were sober, there are psychological factors that can contribute to the development of addiction in other areas of life. For instance, when someone doesn’t have healthy coping mechanisms to face the stress in life, he or she might turn to pleasurable experiences as a means to feel better, such as sex or gambling. When a person goes through addiction treatment, it’s best if they learn healthy coping mechanisms in order to prevent against developing another addiction. Furthermore, if a person’s gambling leads to severe consequences, the stress may in turn create a relapse in their drinking or drug use.

If you recognize that you or someone you know may need help for a gambling addiction, contact a mental health provider today.


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