Can Gambling Ruin Your Life?

The Basics of Gambling

Gambling: it is an innocent and popular pastime that can result in unpredictable outcomes. The most common types of gambling include horse race betting, card game betting, board game betting, playing the lottery, playing on slot machines, sports betting, and more. These days, you can gamble pretty much anywhere: at a casino, at home, or even on-the-go through your phone. This means that you could rapidly lose money or other resources without even really realizing it.

When you gamble, it means that you are willing to risk something you currently have in the hopes of receiving something of greater value. Gambling requires literally betting on something you own to potentially get something different, which can be extremely detrimental over time.

 

What Is A Gambling Addiction?

Gambling, like drugs and alcohol, stimulates the brain’s reward system. If someone gambles often enough for an extended period of time, they may begin to depend on this behavior. When people depend on gambling to get through their day and continue to gamble despite negative consequences, it is likely that they have a gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction, which is also known as ‘problem gambling’ or a ‘gambling disorder,’ is classified as an impulse control disorder. This disorder can stem from a variety of causes.

 

Gambling Addiction Causes

Potential causes or risk factors of gambling addiction may include:

  • Retirement
  • Loneliness
  • Job-related stress
  • Traumatic events
  • Easy accessibility
  • Substance abuse

Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are also risk factors for developing a gambling addiction. Additionally, men are more likely than women to have this disorder.

 

Can Gambling Ruin Your Life?

Gambling can definitely ruin your life if it gets out of control. If you gamble often, you may experience potentially dangerous physical, emotional, and mental side effects. Common side effects of problem gambling include headaches, depression, restlessness, irritability, increased stress, intestinal issues, anxiety, and more. If these problems are not acknowledged and treated as soon as possible, they could become progressively worse over time.

Excessive gambling can have a negative impact on a person’s work, their social life, and their relationships at home. When someone puts all of their time and energy into gambling, they will start to lose perspective of what’s important. People with gambling addictions also tend to have financial issues including debt and depleted savings. These problems can directly affect a person’s family life or marriage.

And, of course, gambling can lead to desperation. When people are desperate, they are willing to do whatever it takes to receive what they think they deserve. ‘Doing whatever it takes,’ may lead to committing illegal and even dangerous acts in some cases.

 

How To Tell If You Have A Gambling Addiction

Since gambling addiction can have so many serious negative effects, it’s important to catch this problem as soon as you can. Here are some signs that a person may be addicted to gambling:

  • Increasingly spending more money
  • Feeling like they need to be secretive about it
  • Returning to gambling after losing money
  • Constantly thinking about gambling
  • Gambling to relieve stress or escape

If you think that you may have a gambling problem, the only way to officially find out is to talk to a doctor or mental health professional and receive a diagnosis. However, there are many tests on the internet that you can take yourself to determine if you’re displaying addictive behaviors.

 

Treating & Recovering From Gambling Addiction

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent developing a gambling addiction. However, individuals can take steps like staying away from peer pressure and surrounding themselves with good influences when they are tempted to gamble.

Gambling addiction is typically treated similarly to alcohol or drug addiction. Treatment methods typically include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, certain medications, and more.

To learn more about gambling addiction and to find out if you or your loved one is struggling with this disorder, contact our team of mental health specialists and substance abuse treatment representatives. Give us a call at 866-345-2147 so we can help find treatment options.