Gambling can morph from a fun, harmless activity to an unhealthy obsession and addiction in no time. Gambling addiction can have serios consequences, propagating an impulsive behavior known as ‘problem gambling’. Problem gambling is an addiction that progresses with time, and has many negative psychosocial consequences.
Problem gambling is an impulse-control disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) manual, i.e. the American Psychiatric Association’s manual for psychological disorders.
Read on to know more about gambling addiction and what you can do about treating it:
Signs and symptoms of gambling addition
Gambling addiction is a ‘hidden illness’ as there are no obvious signs of it unlike other diseases and no one can guess by looking at the patient. What makes diagnosing this illness a greater challenge is that the sufferer will deny that they have an addiction problem, even to themselves.
Therefore, the signs to look out for include:
You feel the need to be secretive: gambling on its own is a bad habit that can turn addictive. Most people hide this habit, or gamble in secret. If you are being obsessively secretive about it, and think that you can surprise the people around you with a big win, you might be in trouble. Often, the gamblers find it hard to confide in others, and they also downplay or hide the amount they use to gamble.
Gambling even when you are broke: is a sure sign of addiction. Most gamblers spend every last dime they have anticipating a ‘big win’. In fact, they may even gamble when they don’t have the money, using their bill money, savings, or even borrowed money to gamble. There is a big problem if you find yourself doing this. Not only does it have huge impact on the mental health of the gambler, but is also a problem for their family, as this can accelerate to stealing and even selling the items of the household for money.
There is trouble controlling the impulse: what may have started as just an activity can sometimes accelerate to the extent that you cannot control the impulse to gamble. The need and anticipation to win is so addictive that once you start gambling, there is no going back. Often gamblers up the bet in order to win back the money they have lost. Instead of going to work, or finding a way to raise the money, gamblers will keep on betting until they have lost the last of their money.
If you have friends and family that’s worried about you, you might have a problem but you’re not realizing it. As mentioned before, most gamblers don’t face the truth, and deny that they have a problem even to themselves. However, most of the time friends and family can gauge the situation and are worried about the mental and physical health of the gambler.
Most gamblers think it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help, especially for the older gamblers. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to make a change of habit, and working to kick this habit to the curb.
How to deal with the gambling problem?
Evidence shows that gambling can be treated in the same way that other addictions are treated. The best results are shown by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a talking therapy that helps you to manage your problems. The core of CBT is the concept that all physical sensations, feelings, thoughts and subsequent actions are interconnected. It helps to break down bigger problems into smaller ones to make them more manageable.
Counselling and support groups also help gamblers deal with their addiction. There are self-help guides also available that can help a great deal.
Gamblers should focus on paying their bills first, and think about the negative consequences of gambling if the urge strikes them. Debts and bills should be the first priority of payment.
They should also keep their direction away from gambling, by spending their time with friends and family who don’t gamble. Support groups can also help in a similar manner. Surround yourself with people who boost your confidence and help you when you are down. If the urge to gamble strikes, talk it out with someone in your support group, or your counsellor.
Stop viewing gambling as a quick way to make money. You’ll find yourself looking for the ‘high’ of gambling if you see small wins as victory, and would bet on even higher amounts chasing the same high. Therefore, stop taking gambling as a way to earn big money.
If you have friends who have involved you in gambling, then stop seeing them. You can also talk to them about how their gambling habit is affecting you. Be honest, and stop putting yourself in situations also that encourage gambling and betting. Its best if you recognize what your triggers are, and then avoiding them.
You can also reach for professional help to deal with your addiction. Book an appointment with top psychologist in Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.