If you or someone you love is struggling with a possible gambling addiction, you may be stuck searching for answers. This addiction is a serious mental health disorder that can be identified in one of two ways. Either a person continuously bets on things using money or objects that hold value, even though negative consequences occur as a result, or they cannot stop gambling even if they wanted to.
People suffering with either form of this addiction usually display an intense need to bet on a wide range of gambling mediums, whether it be slot machines, sports, poker, picking lottery numbers, or throwing dice. And majority of the time, the family and friends of compulsive gamblers don’t see any physical symptoms like they might if the addiction was something like drugs or alcohol. But even though they may not see any physical effects, the consequences of a gambling addiction can have very serious implications on their lives, and the lives of their friends and families. When you don’t realize the severity or take the situation too lightly, it can be devastating for the addicted gambler in the long run, and he can reach a point where he can lose literally everything in his life from cars, to homes, businesses, or even family. Boston.com says,
The irony of gambling is that it’s entertaining because it’s so frustrating, at least for our dopamine neurons. One of the big remaining questions for scientists is why only some gamblers get addicted. While most people can walk away from the slot machines, some gamblers… can’t resist the temptation.
Gambling in Florida
Most people know that Florida is a hotspot for gamblers from around the globe, as well as Florida locals. So, how many people do you think are actually enduring financial problems as a result of this? A recent study done on card playing by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling stated that 70% of people with this addiction had problems paying their bills, and worse, 1 out of every 3 of these card players admitted to having participated in illicit activities in order to finance their gambling habit. So it may well be that playing cards isn’t as harmless as many people think, and criminal activity can still be a cause for concern.
Symptoms of Addiction
Psych Central tells us that many people with gambling addictions have a preoccupation with gambling:
The person is preoccupied with gambling and has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble, etc.
Folks that are addicted to gambling are not always so obvious about the situation they are in, and in many cases, they may not even realize that they need help. Some addicts don’t dwell on their losses that have resulted from their destructive activities and behaviors, but instead, focus only on the gain, or the intended gain of the games they play. But again, unlike with drug or alcohol addiction, a person that is addicted to gambling will not display symptoms such as fatigue, loss of energy, or dizziness, and may instead show other factors like getting behind on the mortgage and losing quality time with loved ones, and those heighten the chances for entering into drug or alcohol addiction as well.
So what signs should you look for then? Well, it’s sometimes difficult to tell a gambler that has a problem from one that doesn’t. You will find that pathological gamblers will often display one or more of the following signs, or red flags: negligence of family time, commission of criminal acts to acquire more funds for gambling, the tendency to rather gamble than spend time with family or friends, talking excessively about gambling and/or winning money, use of drugs or alcohol as a way to distract themselves from wanting to gamble more, irritability when not able to gamble, neglect of important responsibilities for gambling time, and the tendency to lie to friends or family about going out to gamble. A person may only display one of these red flags, but a combination of these signs is a clear warning that can help you to identify a compulsive gambler. It’s important to note that none of these signs talk about the amount of time a person spends gambling, because it’s not about quantity. A person can gamble every day and not develop a problem, or they could gamble once and get hooked. Also, if you think that it’s okay to be a gambling addict if you are rich, that is really not the case. Rich gamblers can still have issues like neglecting their loved ones and other vital responsibilities.
Scientific American talks about how easy it is to gamble these days:
Four in five Americans say they have gambled at least once in their lives. With the exception of Hawaii and Utah, every state in the country offers some form of legalized gambling. And today you do not even need to leave your house to gamble-all you need is an Internet connection or a phone.
We were talking about Florida earlier, and how it is well-known for its casinos, entertainment arenas, and cruise ship gambling, and environmental factors such as these may make it more likely that people will become more susceptible to developing a gambling addiction. This isn’t a problem that stands alone, and it usually leads to criminal behaviors, psychological stress and depression, and can fuel other more dangerous addictions. When a person turns to drugs or alcohol to help him cope with or supplement his gambling addiction, the combination of multiple addictions can be devastating and hard to treat.
Treating Gambling Addiction
You can find addiction counselors and specialists who will use a variety of methods to treat the addiction effectively, and help the addict understand what drives him to gamble in the first place. They will show him how to replace his betting habits with more appropriate activities, understand how it affects the people around him, and how to strengthen his will power to live a more productive lifestyle.