Gambling addiction is a problem many people face today. This addiction can cause many problems, including debt, relationship issues, and depression. The worst part about gambling addiction is that most people are not aware of their addiction until it has caused irreversible damage to their lives. To help players avoid addiction, the team at CasinoGrizzly put together this guide on responsible gambling.
This article will teach you about gambling addiction and how to deal with it. We’ve also included some tips and links to associations that can offer you comprehensive support if you need help.
What is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is also known as compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or gambling disorder. These terms refer to when a person has an uncontrollable desire to gamble even when it negatively affects their lives.
Gambling is fun and stimulates the brain like alcohol and drugs, which can lead to addiction. People with a gambling addiction may amass debts, hide their behaviour from others, exhaust their savings, or even engage in criminal activities to feed their addiction.
Sometimes, gambling addiction is linked with other mood and behaviour disorders. Some problem gamblers may also deal with substance abuse and mental health issues, and it will be essential to address these to resolve any gambling-related problems.
However, it is possible to have a gambling problem while maintaining control of your life. Gambling addiction encompasses any gambling activity that disrupts the normal flow of your life. So, to the outside world, things may seem fine, but if even the slightest issues arise from your gambling habit, you likely have an addiction.
Gambling Addiction Signs and Symptoms
In most instances, people dealing with a gambling problem do everything they can to keep their addiction a secret. However, this condition is not always easy to hide, meaning there are some obvious signs you can look out for if you’re concerned about someone you know. By looking out for these signs, you or someone else can avoid causing considerable damage, such as losing a job, ruining relationships, or running out of money.
Below are the most common gambling addiction symptoms:
- You feel the need to hide your gambling activities from those around you
- You don’t find it easy to control your gambling
- You gamble even when you don’t have enough cash
- Your friends and family are concerned about you
- You feel agitated when not gambling
- You are constantly preoccupied with thoughts about gambling
- You have lost your relationship or job as a result of your gambling activities
- You borrow cash from those around you to gamble
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that a person must display four or more of the symptoms above within 12 months before being diagnosed as a gambling addict. However, to get a more accurate result, you must get a medical diagnosis from a mental health expert or professional. Professionals can help determine if you are dealing with a gambling addiction or another mental health issue.
Common Types of Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction doesn’t present itself in the same way for everyone; it can come in various forms. The first step to treating this problem is determining the type of gambling addiction you have. The following are the most common types:
- Compulsive Gambling: A compulsive or pathological gambler has no control over their gambling activities. This gambling pushes them beyond their limits since they find gambling hard to resist. People in this category continue to gamble since gambling is a vital need they must feed even when they don’t have the cash to do it.
- Binge Gambling: Binge gamblers have a little more control than compulsive gamblers. They don’t display obvious signs of addiction and can avoid gambling for long periods. However, when the urge comes, they start to gamble, making it very difficult for them to stop.
- Problem Gambling: A problem gambler can’t think of anything other than gambling. People in this category may forget about their responsibilities when the urge to gamble comes. Ultimately, the addiction can affect their careers and everyday lives.
Self-Help for Gambling Problems
If you have a gambling problem, the first step to getting help is to accept that you have a problem. When you do this, you can break free from the vicious cycle of gambling addiction. Many steps can help you achieve this, which we’ve outlined below.
Join a Support Group
Once you have accepted that there is a problem, it’s worth joining a support group. These organizations are run by people that have experience with gambling addiction and have overcome it in the past. Support groups can help you to overcome your issues and are usually free to use online or in person. One of the best options is Gamblers Anonymous.
An easy way to ensure you don’t gamble anymore is to stay away from places where gambling takes place. You can also destroy your credit cards or let someone else handle your finances to keep you in check.
Understand Your Cravings
Gambling comes with cravings, just like other addictions. These cravings are usually intense and challenging to avoid, which is why you need to understand them. Understanding your desires, what you think of, and how long they last are the best ways to stop them from controlling you.
Look for Other Fun Alternatives
Most people use gambling to pass the time and have fun. Replacing your gambling activities with positive ones will be vital if you try to eliminate your gambling addiction. A few options include meditation, travelling, hanging out with family and friends who don’t gamble or going on walks.
Dealing with Gambling Cravings
When you are trying to stop something you are addicted to, you may sometimes experience cravings. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to deal with cravings:
- Don’t be alone: Head to a support group meeting, or reach out to a family member or friend you can rely on. When you are not alone, it is harder to gamble.
- Postpone your gambling activity: Simply postponing your gambling is a great way to deal with cravings. Tell yourself to hold off from gambling for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or even an hour. As you keep postponing the event, the gambling urge may weaken enough for you to resist it, or the urge may pass completely.
- Consider the consequences: Consider the consequences of falling for the gambling temptation. How would you feel knowing that you have disappointed yourself and those around you when you gamble again?
- Do something else: This is another excellent way to deal with cravings. Simply engaging in another activity that takes up your time is a great way to keep your mind off gambling.
Gambling Addiction Treatment
Professional treatment options are available if you have tried out the self-help options that do not seem to work. These include:
Many therapies are available for gamblers, ranging from group-based recovery to intensive treatments. Since the options are numerous, you will need to research to find the ideal one for you. The following are the most common options available if you decide to go with therapy:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This treatment therapy has been known to offer excellent results in dealing with numerous addictions, including gambling. Here, a mental health expert helps you determine the pattern of thinking that may have caused your gambling problem. You’ll then be given tips and tricks to deal with these thought patterns.
- Talking Therapies: Speaking to a mental health expert can help problem gamblers identify their problems’ root causes and deal with them. This will make it easier to recover.
- Other useful therapy options for treating gambling addictions include psychotherapy and family therapy.
Some medications can help minimize the symptoms that come with gambling addictions. Examples of these include antidepressants and mood stabilizers. Some antidepressants can minimize gambling urges, while drugs used for treating drug addictions can aid those dealing with compulsive gambling.
How to Help Someone Stop Gambling
Sometimes it may not be you dealing with the addiction but someone you know. This could be a family friend or loved one, and you usually want to help them recover from it. However, trying to help someone close to you with a gambling addiction can be extremely difficult.
The easiest way to get a gambling addict to want to seek change is to let them see the impact of their gambling. Even though their gambling problem may be troubling you, it is best not to judge but show love and support instead.
You can also seek the help of experts to help gamblers recover. These experts are better equipped to help your loved one overcome gambling addiction. One organization you can reach out to is Gambling Therapy. If you are dealing with the case of a loved one who is experiencing suicidal tendencies, you can reach the Canada Suicide Prevention Service helpline at 1-833-456-4566.
If you are not of the legal gambling age, staying away from casinos and online gambling platforms is best. In Canada, the legal gambling age is 18, except in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, where the age limit is 19. It is important to note that some casinos may require you to be at least 21 years old before you can gamble online.
Violating the gambling age limit can result in numerous penalties, including being banned from the casino and confiscating your winnings.
Responsible Gambling Tips
Responsible gambling is a fun activity, but it can easily become addictive. When gambling becomes a necessity, you could have an issue. To ensure you don’t fall into this situation, we have put together a few tips that can help you gamble responsibly. They include:
- Have a clear mind: Only gamble when your mind is clear. You should not be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substances which could alter your thought process.
- Have a budget and stick with it: Having a budget is a great way to help keep you in check. A budget should cover your win and loss limit, and it is important to stop playing when you hit the limit.
- Have a time limit: This is as important as having a budget. When gambling, time can easily fly quickly. Have a time limit and stop playing when you hit it.
- Take frequent breaks: Don’t gamble continuously without remembering to take breaks. Many gambling platforms let you set play limits for long or short durations if you find it hard to do it yourself.
We at Casinogrizzly believe in responsible gaming, which is why we have a responsible gambling policy. Please gamble responsibly and follow the tips in this guide to ensure you have a fun experience.