Understanding Gambling Addiction
At its core, gambling addiction represents an overpowering urge to persist in wagering on diverse casino games or events, regardless of the adverse consequences it inflicts upon oneself and their social circle. This insidious cycle can lead to the erosion of emotional bonds with loved ones, profound financial distress, and, over the course of time, severe repercussions on one’s mental and physical health.
There are three primary categories of gambling addiction:
Similar to bouts of binge eating or excessive alcohol consumption, binge gambling is characterized by placing significant wagers over a short period. Binge gamblers may exhibit occasional self-control, but they are susceptible to impulsive betting urges, resulting in both substantial wins and losses.
This type of addiction is more persistent, with individuals consistently participating in gambling activities. Problem gamblers may be oblivious to the extent of their addiction, causing harm to themselves and those around them. Alternatively, they may recognize their problem but find it challenging to regain control. Such an addiction can jeopardize their overall well-being and relationships, as all forms of addiction inevitably lead to adverse consequences.
Commonly referred to as gambling disorder, compulsive gambling entails an overwhelming compulsion to gamble, regardless of the significant financial, emotional, mental, and physical toll it exacts on the individual and their family. Compulsive gamblers often grapple with acknowledging their problem, often relying on loved ones to recognize, address, and intervene in the situation. This can lead to difficult and uncomfortable conversations about the nature of their addiction.
Seeking help is highly recommended when dealing with any form of gambling addiction, whether it occurs in online gambling or physical casinos, poker rooms, or sportsbooks.
Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
While the specific symptoms of gambling addiction can vary from person to person, experts at the Addiction Center and Mayo Clinic identify the following as common signs:
Treatment for Gambling Addiction
The path to recovery from gambling addiction varies from case to case, but most medical professionals emphasize the importance of the individual acknowledging their problem as the first step. Subsequently, behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions with a psychologist are typically recommended. If necessary, a doctor may prescribe medication to aid in recovery and address related issues such as depression.
Many individuals with gambling addiction also find solace in support groups like Gamblers Anonymous or those recommended by their healthcare providers. Being part of a community of individuals facing similar struggles or those on the path to recovery can have a positive impact, according to professionals.
Where to Seek Help
A good place to start one’s recovery is by calling a support hotline like National Problem Gambling Helpline via phone or text at 1-800-522-4700 or 1-800-GAMBLER. Both are 100% confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Additionally, most online gambling offer addiction resources to help their customers out in time of need:
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