There’s a little gambler lying in all of us - whether you like to play online poker, try your luck by scratching lottery tickets from time to time, or bet on your favourite sports team - chances are you are a bit of a gambler. That said, we all need to be careful that our little gambling routine does not eventually become an addiction. Now, we at AskGamblers decided to dig a little deeper and find out more about gambling addiction. Here’s what we’ve found out!
What is Gambling Addiction, Anyway?
There are different forms of gambling that are not necessarily restricted to online slot machines, cards, live casino games or sports betting, and all of them can cause gambling addiction that can happen to anyone, regardless of age, sex, origin, profession and education.
Gambling addiction is an instinctive disorder occurring when a player cannot control their impulse to gamble, although it can have negative consequences on players’ loved ones.
According to one of the definitions on gambling addiction, it is an instinctive disorder occurring when a player cannot control their impulse to gamble, although it can have negative consequences on players’ loved ones. No matter what the circumstances are – whether a gamer is in a good or bad mood, with money or broke – he (or she) just keeps their gambling routine going regardless of the consequences. Even if a player can’t afford to lose, they will make risky bets to experience the emotional high even by taking huge risks.
Problem Gambling Vs Gambling Addiction: What’s the Difference?
Gambling addiction, problem gambling, pathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder – all these terms have a similar, but not the same meaning. Here, we’ll try to focus on the terminology first and understand the difference between problem gambling and gambling addiction.
According to one of the definitions – “Problem gambling is any gambling behaviour that disrupts your life. If you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences in your life, you have a gambling problem.” And, it is possible to have a gambling problem and not be totally out of control. So, it is safe to say that problem gambling is any gambling-related behaviour that can disturb or have a strong impact on your life.
Taking risks as opposed to the reward gives every type of player a bit of excitement, but every experience that makes us feel good can lead into a mental dependence.
While trying to deeply understand problem gambling, we couldn’t help but wonder - why is gambling addictive? Well, taking risks as opposed to the reward gives every type of player a bit of excitement. But, every experience that makes us feel good can lead into a mental dependence.
Again, the question is - why? It’s because our brain becomes preoccupied with wanting more to activate our so-called “reward system.” Gambling is a highly rewarding experience - which is why people are attracted to it. Getting back to normal, on the other hand, usually means a person must take weeks, months or even years off to get rid of all of that negative impact.
Unfortunately, if a player makes it to this stage, gambling has become more than just an issue – it means the person is addicted to gambling, might be a gambling addict and needs to look for help.
You’ve probably wondered before - what could be the cause of gambling addiction? It is impossible to single out just one cause, as it is a mixture of biological causes, psychological causes, socio-cultural and spiritual causes.
But, what could be the possible cause of gambling addiction? Well, it is impossible to single out just one cause, as it is a mixture of biological causes, psychological causes, socio-cultural and spiritual causes. In other words, each of these four types (also known as Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Model of addiction) contributes to gambling addiction.
When it comes to biological causes of gambling addiction, these mostly refer to each person's unique physiology and genetics.
On the other hand, psychological causes refer to stress reduction, escape from boredom, or a variety of mechanisms used for coping with unpleasant emotions or circumstances. Of course, there are numerous other reasons why people engage in gambling, so if you want to learn more about them, we suggest you check out our in-depth article about the psychological causes of gambling addiction and the overall psychology behind gambling.
As for the socio-cultural gambling cause, the biggest part plays the individual’s family, with culture being spread from one generation to the next. Children learn from their parents or older siblings about games of chance.
Let’s not forget the fact that we as human beings have a need to interact with other individuals, whereas casinos with all that stimulating social atmosphere might be exactly what we’re looking for. Not to mention, players who support and cheer each other up add another cultural context to it.
And last but not least, the lack of a spiritual anchor can very often lead to the development of online gambling addiction or any other spiritual addiction.
Gambling Addiction Symptoms and Signs
Gambling problems can happen to anyone, but if they happen to you or your loved ones, these problems start bothering you. Once you cross that thin line while being unaware of these problems, gambling can lead from a harmless hobby to an addiction – interfering with work, straining your relationships or causing a financial crisis.
In case you have asked yourself more than once – “do I have a gambling problem?” there are a few other questions you can take into consideration:
- Are you becoming mysterious about your gambling activities?
- Is your gambling behaviour getting out of control?
- Have you ever borrowed money to gamble?
- Are you chasing losses even after you’ve spent your last dollar playing?
- Are your family and friends worried about you?
As these are also some of the signs of gambling addiction, if YES is the answer to any of these questions, maybe it’s time to look for help.
How to Stop Gambling Forever?
The hardest part is being honest with yourself and admitting you have a problem. Even if you’ve reached the stage when you think you have no idea how to quit gambling and there’s no way out – there’s always a solution! In fact, there are plenty of approaches that can help you stop gambling addiction and overcome the issue, fix your financial problems, take care of those broken relationships, and get back on track. In fact, these are some steps you can take once you realise you have an addiction:
- Make a decision to stop
- Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways
- Reach out to friends and family
- Turn to these responsible gambling organisations for help
- Join a support group
- Find alternatives to gambling (i.e. sports, music, meditation...)
- Plan your time ahead
So, if you think you are losing control - try to avoid spending time on your own, especially alone, in front of your computer or phone and try to avoid all kinds of tempting situations. Remember that every problem has a solution, and so does this one! Please consider self-exclusion as well as the cool off periods.
In case you are considering a gambling addiction treatment, these are a few advices to think about:
- Start a gambling rehab
- Go to a gambling therapy
- Join gambling addiction forum
- Consider gambling addiction counselling
When You Need to Contact a Gambling Addiction Hotline?
Although we’ve already mentioned gambling addiction symptoms and signs, we’d also like to emphasize how important it is to know when a person needs to reach for help and call the gambling addiction hotline.
As we’ve already listed some major responsible gambling organisations you can call for help, it would be useful to know when it’s time to consider calling gambling addiction hotline. So, if you feel that you are:
- Hiding gambling addiction
- Having hard time controlling gambling habits
- Borrowing money to gamble
- Hearing other people’s concerns about your gambling behaviour
We would kindly advise any player who thinks they might have a gambling addiction not to hide their gambling problem, but contact the gambling helpline as a first step.
There are a few things to remember - gambling helpline is available, and we assure you that every person can get over their gambling addiction and regain control, only if they want to.
Getting Help is Crucial
Quitting gambling is not an easy thing to do but, with a little help from a family member, a friend or a support group, it is possible. Supportive family and friends play an important role when it comes to helping you stop gambling, but they might not know the ways of how to help you out. So, please, do not hesitate to look for help – you can turn to responsible gambling organisations and join a support group. Every problem has a solution and don’t be afraid to speak up.
You may as well join our forum and share your opinion there. In addition, if you'd like to join our Podcast Show, we cover Problem Gambling in our sixth episode: How Does GamBan Work and Who is It Recommended to?