gambling addictions

Addiction does not always refer to the use of drugs or alcohol. In some cases, it refers to compulsive behaviors and actions that cause harm to your body and mind. Compulsive gambling, or a gambling addiction, refers to an individual's need or temptation to gamble, even when it causes financial challenges and personal harm. The National Institutes on Health report that gambling addiction usually involves repetitive behaviors and habits that often worsen with stress or difficult situations. Recovering from a gambling addiction requires the right treatment solutions and a personal effort to overcome the behavior.

What is a Gambling Addiction?

young man crying over his gambling addiction

An addiction to gambling specifically refers to the compulsive behaviors and repetitive patterns that lead to a gambling problem. When an individual slowly increases their gambling “habit,” it promotes the adoption of compulsive behaviors that are similar to mental health disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Due to the compulsive nature of gambling addictions, the desire to gamble becomes an urge that cannot be controlled and that, ultimately, consumes the individual. The compulsion is so strong that it often leads to major financial and personal difficulties that seem to go unnoticed or disregarded by the addicted gambler.

Symptoms of a Gambling Addiction

The signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling relate to the way that you engage in the behavior. By recognizing the signs of addiction, you have the ability to determine when to seek help and start making changes to your lifestyle.

Common signs of compulsive gambling include:

  • Constantly thinking about gambling
  • Gambling more often or making larger bets over time for the same enjoyment
  • Getting irritable or upset when you cannot gamble
  • Using gambling as a way to escape from stress or problems
  • Lying about or hiding your behavior

Consequences of a Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is ultimately a mental health issue. While it may not seem as dangerous as a drug addiction per se, the impact on one’s life can be equally as dramatic and just as difficult to treat. Psych Central says that roughly 2 to 4 percent of the population are impacted by gambling addiction.

Common problems that occur when you gamble compulsively include:

  • Incurring large debts
  • Taking risks with your finances and health, such as engaging in criminal activity to continue gambling
  • Harming personal relationships
  • Facing difficulty maintaining health due to financial hardships
  • Seeking Treatment

    When an addiction develops, you must seek appropriate treatment to focus on your recovery goals. The best solutions depend on your goals and situation; however, a treatment program offers the tools to obtain your goals and start making a positive change. By entering a treatment program and working on the underlying causes of your compulsive behavior, you gain the opportunity to start improving your situation.

    Mother and son smiling after his treatment

    Engaging in a behavior that causes negative and potentially dangerous consequences impacts your entire life. Compulsive gambling raises concerns about your health, your relationships and your financial freedom because it impacts your ability to pay the bills or accomplish important tasks.

    Sources:

    1. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001520.htm
    2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/compulsive-gambling/basics/definition/con-20023242
    3. http://psychcentral.com/disorders/pathological-gambling-symptoms/

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