Do You Have a Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is a process addiction. Addictions can involve substances like alcohol and drugs. They can also involve processes or activities like gambling, sex, and spending. Gambling addiction has been called the “hidden illness”, because it doesn’t have physical consequences as do drug and alcohol addictions.
According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, 2 to 5 percent of Americans have a gambling addiction. Surveys suggest that approximately two million Americans are gambling addicts. Up to 20 million Americans who are not yet gambling addicts have a gambling problem that seriously interferes with their lives.
When Does Recreational Gambling Become A Gambling Addiction?
Gambling becomes an addiction when you cannot stop no matter how how hard you try and regardless of how serious the consequences become. In other words, you are out of control. Problem gambling can occur even when a gambler is not out of control, although problem gambling usually leads to a gambling addiction if allowed to continue unchecked.
There are gambling addicts who are so well off that they can afford to gamble — and lose. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a gambling problem. Being a gambling addict doesn’t necessarily mean that you gamble every day, although you might. Binge gamblers bet infrequently, but when they do, they can’t stop. A gambling addict will continue to play until all the money is gone.
Addicts typically deny or minimize their gambling and go to great lengths to hide it. As the problem progresses, the addict starts betting money that would normally be used for a mortgage payment, to pay bills, or to buy food. A gambling addict might dip into a retirement account, borrow money recklessly, steal, or sell possessions just to get gambling money.
What Causes A Gambling Addiction?
The brain of a gambling addict responds to gambling as an alcoholic responds to alcohol. The more the person gambles, the stronger the addiction will become. A gambling addiction can involve casinos, online games, lottery tickets, sports betting, poker games, or betting on the horses at the track. Men are more likely to develop a gambling addiction than women.
Sometimes there are underlying psychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, or bipolar disorder that predispose a person to a gambling addiction. If this is the case, a doctor may prescribe a medication to treat the underlying condition. This could be a big help in assisting an addict to abstain from gambling and begin treatment.
What Is The Best Way To Treat Addictive Gambling?
Cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and 12-Step support groups can help compulsive gamblers to let go of the habit. In recovery, the problems that were at the root of the gambling addiction will begin to reveal themselves. These problems must be faced if the gambler is to remain abstinent. For those who need help to begin the recovery process, an inpatient rehab program can be a good option. These programs generally require the gambler to remain in the facility from one month to one year.