While the signs of a process addiction aren’t much different from those of a substance use disorder, there are some key variations that are important to know. Whether it involves lottery tickets, betting on fantasy sport games, casinos, or online poker, compulsive gambling often has serious negative consequences. From harmful financial losses such as bankruptcy and homelessness to destroyed relationships with family, friends and colleagues, problem gambling can affect all aspects of your life. If you think your gambling is getting out of control, read these common symptoms of a gambling addiction:
1. Trying Your Luck
Many people enjoy gambling as a recreational activity. The occasional night at the casino while on holiday or a poker game with friends isn’t a problem for them. But when you find yourself constantly trying your luck, it might be time to look at your habits. You find excuses to remove yourself from family events in order to gamble. Maybe you play online games during working hours, or you can’t pass by a casino without going in. Constantly chasing the next big win, playing another hand and feeling like you can’t stop are signs that you may have a gambling addiction.
When we feel the need to hide our actions from those we love, it’s usually a sign that we are ashamed of what we’re doing. You feel ashamed of how much time you spend gambling so you go to great lengths to hide it. It means you have to lie about where you spend your time, how much you gamble, your financial situation, and how unhappy this cycle is making you.
3. Constant Thoughts
Is gambling on your mind all day every day? Thinking about gambling when you’re not actually gambling is common with a gambling addiction. Another sign is the instinct to gamble when things aren’t going right. If you have a problem that causes you distress, and your first thought is to gamble to relieve that feeling, it might be time to seek help.
4. More is Never Enough
Just like a substance use disorder, it seems that you just can’t get enough. No matter how much you spend, or how many hands you play, it never seems to quell the desire for more. Do you place another bet wanting the next jackpot, anticipating the adrenaline? Do you continue to gamble to try and win back what you’ve lost? When you never seem to get your fill, it might be a sign that you have a problem.
5. Negative Emotions
If you do have a gambling addiction, you may experience overwhelming feelings of helplessness, irritability, guilt or anxiety. You may have depression. These negative emotions become especially intense when you try to control or stop your gambling and are unsuccessful. When gambling moves from a recreational past time to a compulsion, negative emotions tend to grow. If it isn’t fun anymore and makes you feel hopeless and alone, gambling has probably become a negative force in your life.
While all of the signs and symptoms may have left your in a state of despair, there is always hope. Problem gambling can be treated, just like any other addiction. It will take hard work, commitment and some deep self-examination, but you can recover and you don’t have to do it alone.
Bellwood Health Services offers hope and recovery to addicted gamblers through our intensive Problem Gambling Treatment Program. Using a holistic approach that considers every facet of the individual, we address the unique issues of problem gambling – such as guilt, anger and shame- and work to identify the factors that trigger this problem, establish positive behaviours, and create financial and money management strategies.