Signs of a Gambling Addiction

help for gambling addiction

A Penny for Your Thoughts, A Penny for Your Life

Whether it be for love, kindness, and understanding, or for money, power, and respect- no earthly being truly knows the meaning of life. But what we do know is that money makes the world go around, and the more of it you have, the more comfortable we presume life to be. Working hard and getting paid seems to be falling second to the more adventurous and instant, yet addictive methods of turning a dime into a dollar. For some, gambling is a past time that people partake in occasionally, doing so in a responsible manner. However, for many others, it is a sign of an addiction that takes fortunes and leaves behind the burning desire that leads to a consuming amount of debt, compiling dependency, and gambling addiction. 

“Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.”, Said the French historian, Voltaire. But is it not that the nature of society today? Doing anything to make a quick dollar to get ahead of the next person is a toxic sign and the mentality of the world. Now add in the signs of the epidemic of dependency and abuse to a gambling obsession, and you have a recipe for disaster. The high stakes and fast cash is the popular road to success and is all too available for those willing to bet their life on it. 

The Hand You Are Dealt: Excitement or Obsession

While dodging the curveballs of disease and famine, though some burdens are out of our control, we all face the daily struggles that life throws at us. Too often in the 21st century, we are giving in to the temptations and signs of greed and addiction. With the diseases of alcohol and drug abuse is becoming more and more prevalent, gambling addiction holds its place on the top of the abuse and misuse list, and that number is climbing quickly. Those who know of its treachery are aware that alcoholic thinking is an addictive mindset that doesn’t necessarily pertain to ingesting any alcohol at all. In fact, alcoholic thinking is just another way of saying that someone has an addictive personality, which means that signs of this thinking could pertain to just about any habit that one has developed an unhealthy relationship. Gambling addiction, amongst a slew of other addictions, is just one action away from the life-threatening disease of alcoholism.

In this pursuit of a happy life through financial wealth and stability, some are only able to experience joy with dollar signs in their eyes. Through money laundering and bribery, to pyramid schemes and gambling addiction, money becomes the sign of the essence of life for some. The smell of the cash, the volatile numerology, the pay off (metaphorical and literal) – it is a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Yet, believe it or not, money, or the action of betting on it, is just as much an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be.

We focus all of our efforts on obtaining this piece of paper or precious metal of sorts that has been declared valuable- but why? In order to trade it for other things that are deemed valuable? Am I showing any signs of addiction that I should be more concerned about? Am I acting more compulsively about getting more money? Asking the questions differently, makes the experience sound strange. That being said, it is okay, and even encouraged, to provide for one’s self, or to be motivated to take care of children or family. However, the lengths that some people are willing to go to for this financial security is a sign that it then becomes a more significant issue. The feeling around money that makes it so appealing is that more money will create a sanctuary, in times where life, love, stress, and setbacks can cause instability. However, it is quite clear whether you suffer from a gambling addiction or not, that money is the driving force behind the uncontrolled desire, leading to greed.

Poker Isn’t Just a Game of Cards: Making Excuses For Gambling

There are many signs that are noticeable when a gambling addict tries to justify their actions. Many will say that they participate in the love of the game, or because that is where they can spend time with their peers who share the same interests. These phrases are only excuses, and oftentimes, a person suffering from this type of gambling addiction may even believe their own explanations. Unfortunately, gambling away money is not the same thing as spending time with friends playing a sport or participating in a book club, or any other type of leisurely activity. It is a compulsive habit that must be taken seriously and treated just like the signs of any other addiction, such as alcohol or drug abuse. 

Technology Makes it More Difficult

Due to the advancements of technology in the most recent years, gambling addiction is on the rise. 55% of those that compulsively gamble, or show signs of gambling addiction, have reported that they do so from their laptop where internet connection is available. Being able to join in the game at any hour on any given day, raises the stakes for those with uncontrollable urges to place their bets. Along with internet usage, the 34% who report that they take part on their home computers as their primary means of playing, claim that it is due to the comfort and lack of effort needed. These technological advancements, unfortunately, add to the risk of becoming addicted to gambling.

The most unsettling statistic is the number of gambling addicts that participate in “live betting” and gambling applications from their cell phone or mobile devices on the go. Almost every person you pass throughout the day is attached to their phone by internet or cellular data as part of their cellular plan. Those within the age range of late teens (legal age) to those in their early 40’s, reported that they makeup the almost 30% who utilize their phones to gamble at their leisure, thanks to the device being with them and available at all times. 

Knowing that technology and convenience are of top priority in the world, the numbers show signs that are predicted only to grow exponentially. The availability and enticing models of the sites and apps available for download lure people in with the idea of gambling being only a game. Before long, daily or even hourly access becomes routine, and becoming addicted to gambling is easier than ever, exposing the lifestyle of dependency on unsuspecting gamers. 

Can’t Buy Me Love: Trading One for the Other

Gambling addiction and good health are antithetical in many perspectives of alcoholic thinking, meaning you cannot do one and expect to have the other. As mentioned beforehand, most equate addiction only to substances ingested or abused by means of chemical intoxication. But we quickly forget how fast eating disorders or codependency can create powerlessness and unmanageability in an individual’s life as well. Often times gambling addiction is a side effect of sobriety. Many with the disease of addiction enter rehabilitation centers, and achieve a recovery mindset for alcohol or drug abuse, then assume that the chemical substances we’re the only issues manifesting the problems in their lives. Studies have shown that signs of gambling addiction can lead to alcohol abuse, and alcoholism can assist in repetitive gambling habits. Unfortunately, some will only later notice the signs and discover that cross-addiction is a very real thing and that they have only substituted one act of dependency for another. 

In the United States alone, about 10 million people have been diagnosed with addiction, or dependency related illnesses, that are directly related to gambling. Doing the math, that is just under 3% of the population in our country. Because of the links between drug and alcohol misuse and its correlation to the addictive gambling community, the economy of the USA’s financial system is affected by 6 billion dollars in just one year. It is clear that it is relevant to consider gambling addiction a doorway, in or out, of the rehabilitation community, with all results impeding successful recovery. The stigma around asking for help, or admitting to having a gambling problem, prevents many from reaching out to ask for the help they need before the habit turns into an out of control compulsion. Some may even miss the initial signs of gambling addiction, and before they are even aware, it has consumed them. 

The Tell: Signs of a Gambling Addiction

The signs of gambling addiction and relapse with drugs and alcohol have much in common. Behaviors of the individual can begin to progressively shift for the worse, and become apparent over time. Many behaviors of those that think “alcoholically,” who are unwilling to heal from every form that addiction takes include:

  • Grandiosity and arrogant mannerisms 
  • Ignoring fellowship needs
  • Putting their recovery plan on the back burner or insisting that no further assistance is needed
  • Close mindedness or unwillingness to deviate from dangerous behavior
  • Reclusiveness and isolation
  • Financial irresponsibility and debt
  • Irritability
  • Always AWOL

Addiction is not an easy beast to conquer, no matter what form it comes in, or what signs we exhibit. So when somebody is feeding the disease- it shows. It’s a little easier to see when people are starting to become complacent and putting their recovery on the back burner. Eventually, it will become more and more evident that relapse is closing in, through the behavior or becoming aware of these toxic thoughts and actions. Without knowing the signs to look out for, as well as remaining vigilant to (or creating) a recovery plan, all go up in flames regardless of the type of addiction. Gambling addiction creates an unfortunate game where if you’re not first, you’re dead last. 

Betting On Life: Gambling Addiction is an Inevitable Loss

Addiction numbs us to reality. It brings out a version of ourselves that has a tendency to always look at things from a negative viewpoint or a “not good enough” perspective. Simply, with the concept of the glass being half empty, we as gambling addicts find ourselves no stranger to disgust soon after feeding our monster. Eventually, every area of life starts to suffer from this hollow feeling. In no time, the mindset of “nothing I ever do is good enough” roots itself into every forced step we take. They are making it harder and harder to keep going, and the cravings and temptations become more and more intense. 

Just like the drugs, the highs are high but the lows are so low. Losing a fistful of dollars to a gambling addiction can be one of the worst withdrawals to strike the addict down. Nothing is alright but everything is okay because that urge was satisfied. In this case, the money didn’t have to be made, just spent. A person showing signs of a gambling addiction just needed to perform the act, and may actually seem happy, whether they finished with or without a cash increase. The inside and the outside justify different emotions and should be considered a very big red flag. 

Gambling addiction will often convince us to give up on ourselves. Usually, as an addict, you will begin losing interest in the things that you love as the slots consume every inch of our obsessive thinking. The rush, the cards, the chips, and the stale smoke- it becomes this depressing way of life that was once an enjoyable experience with friends, and now everything revolves around it. Things will seem off, as far as our loved ones can tell, at first. We start to push friends and family away in attempts to hide the casino-driven mania rooted within the denial of the signs of our addiction to gambling. Becoming cold and distant is a way to protect those we love from the disappointment that stems from the lack of control and shamefulness we feel for ourselves. From here, dreams turn into nightmares that we can’t seem to wake up from, as the bets on precious life are made.

gambling-poker

House Of Cards: The Life of Gambling Doesn’t Always Have to Win

Gambling addiction for some will suck the life out of the person until drinking or getting high seems like the only rational solution. On top of that, the playgrounds and playmates that come with this type of gaming does not speak highly for recovery-oriented individuals. The people and places will only help in the enablement of shifty decision making and questionable activities.

For example, an addict that is gambling to satisfy the urge that drug or alcohol dependency and abuse used to take the place of will undoubtedly find themselves in a casino or lounge, physically or virtually. Though exposure is part of the rehabilitation and recovery process, gambling has already impacted the life of the addict, weakening the control and management they have over their temptations. 

Gambling Addiction Does Not Have the Same “Rock Bottom”

Unfortunately, unlike drug or alcohol abuse, there is often no ultimate life-threatening low driving a person to get the help they need. A gambling addict will exhibit signs by constantly convince themselves and at times, even others. Whether it’s something along the lines of they he’d just gotten a bad deck of cards and that next time will be better- and it never is. Often, this works, at least for a while. But believe me, there will be another excuse behind that one and another reason after that.

There is no immediate threat of death that can be caused by “gambling too much,” and knowing that, many people are reluctant to give up the habit. Even worse, the people around a gambling addict may believe the excuses, or allow for this type of behavior. Often times, family and loved ones will even lend the money to “help” or make an addict “happy.” Knowing the signs of this type of alcoholic thinking can be the difference between slipping back through the cracks of misery and dependency, or living a life that is happy, joyous, and free. If you think or notice signs that you or a loved one may have a gambling problem, we suggest you check out a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. 

The Royal Flush: Live Free of Gambling Addiction

The good news is that gambling addiction isn’t impossible to overcome. Just like any unhealthy dependency, knowing the signs and making a rehabilitation plan, with the help of professionals that understand addiction and abuse, are available to help. Addressing the relapse of alcohol and drug use may even be the first step to a healthy and successful recovery. 

Counselors and trained staff have specialized plans that give you the tools to make constructive decision-making skills. Being able to resist sings and triggers, and also knowing the closeness and like-minded thinking, between the alcoholic brain and those with a gambling addiction, will assist in gaining a better perspective. It is very easy to fall back into unhealthy patterns of behavior. Relapse is not a failure; it is just a sign telling you that you may need more or different reinforcement programs through your rehabilitation journey. 

Every person has individual needs when it comes to addiction, rehab, and recovery, and each person reacts differently to certain types of treatment. Some of the lessons learned may have a positive effect on one person and be of little value to another. Some skills will work for you forever with effort and adaption, and others need to be constantly reinforced in order to resist the temptation around you. Speaking with a counselor will adjust your treatment to your needs leaving you in the best position to move forward free of the hold that gambling addiction, or signs of any kind of addiction, has over you. 

When to Fold: Stop Relapse Before It Stops You

It can be intimidating to know that addiction and alcoholism are always right around the corner in different shapes and sizes. Knowing the signs of your demons and what you’re prone to can make all the difference in the world. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please call 888-481-1993. Our teams of specialists At Coastal Detox are waiting to help figure out what options are best for your life to move in a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.