Gambling is a fun and exciting game with the chance of making money, but too much of the game is considered an addiction. It is crucial as a problem gambler to be aware of the signs and symptoms, how to stop, and how to seek help and when. The earlier the problem is detected, the faster it will heal.
Some people refer to gambling addiction as a hidden illness. The reason being, there are no physical signs or symptoms to indicate the problem. It is not easy to detect it as you can with alcohol and drug addiction. Problem gamblers will hide or deny the problem even though they have the problem.
Signs and Symptoms
• It is common for the addict to feel the need to be secretive about gambling. They gamble in secret and lie about it. They have the feeling that other people will not understand.
• They have a problem controlling their gambling. The question to ask is, can you control your gambling? Are you compelled to continue gambling, to the extent of spending your last dollar?
• Do you have the urge to gamble when you do not have money? Some addicts will gamble with the money they do not have, such as money to pay credit cards or bills.
• Another sign is when family and friends start worrying about you. Problem gamblers will continue gambling and still deny it. When friends and family start worrying, listen to them, it is a good thing to ask for help, it is not a sign of weakness.
Self-help for Gambling Problems
The first step to acknowledging that you have a gambling problem is accepting you have a problem. You will need enough strength and courage to take up that step. It is a big challenge when you have lost money or your relationship. Seek help, and do not do it alone.
• Try to relieve all the unpleasant feelings more healthily. Avoid gambling when you are bored or stressed. Gambling can be a self-soothe unpleasant emotion or a way to socialize. Different approaches can help in managing your boredom and moods, such as spending time with friends or exercising.
• Have a sound support system. It will be tough to battle your addiction without good support, especially from friends and family. If you have limited friends, you can make new friends avoid going to the casino or gambling online. When at work, try to reach your colleagues, join a book club, a sports team, or volunteer.
• Join a Peer Support Group: A good example is Gamblers Anonymous. It is a twelve-step recovery program; you will be able to get a sponsor to offer support and guidance.
• Look for help with a mood disorder. There are mood disorders that trigger compulsive gambling, such as stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. You need to address the disorders since they are part of your life, even when you are no longer a problem gambler.
When you notice a friend or a loved one with a gambling problem, help them to overcome their conflicting emotions. It is not an easy journey, even after recovering from the problem, there are chances of a relapse. Look for the best way to help them and support them all the way.