Symptoms of Gambling Addiction: Problem Gambling Effects on You 

May 23, 2024

Gambling Addiction – also known as gambling disorder, pathological gambling or compulsive gambling – is a serious condition that can have profound effects on an individual’s mental, physical and financial well-being. Understanding the symptoms and effects of Gambling Addiction is crucial for identifying and addressing this problem.

Unlike with drug and alcohol addiction, clinicians can’t run physical tests on an individual to identify a gambling disorder. What makes Gambling Addiction so dangerous is that it is difficult to spot an individual struggling with it if they are not openly seeking help or realize they may have a problem. Problem Gambling has been labeled a hidden disease, making it that much more important to outline and elaborate on some of the risk factors for Gambling Addiction, symptoms of Gambling Addiction, effects of Gambling Addiction and available treatment options for Gambling Addiction.

Risk factors for developing Gambling Addiction

There is not enough research done, perhaps due to the lack of federal funding for Gambling Addiction, to pinpoint causes of Problem Gambling. Studies do highlight a series of risk factors that, in combination, can make an individual more prone to developing a Gambling Addiction. 

The below factors are mix of psychological, biological, social, developmental, behavioral and financial factors:

  • Mental Health Disorders: Disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar and substance abuse can increase the risk of Gambling Addiction. The addictive behavior may serve as a coping mechanism for emotional distress.

  • Genetics: There is evidence suggesting a genetic component to gambling addiction. Individuals with a family history of addiction, including gambling, may have a higher risk.

  • Exposure and Accessibility: Increased exposure to gambling activities, such as living near casinos or having easy access to online gambling platforms, can raise the risk of developing a gambling problem.

  • Peer Influence: Social circles and peer pressure can play a significant role. Having friends or family members who gamble can normalize the behavior and encourage participation.

  • Early Exposure: Early exposure to gambling activities, such as through family members or during adolescence, can increase the risk of developing gambling addiction later in life.

  • Trauma and Life Stressors: Experiencing trauma or significant life stressors, such as the loss of a loved one, financial hardship or relationship problems, can lead individuals to seek escape or relief through gambling.

  • Reinforcement: The nature of gambling rewards can reinforce gambling behavior. Wins, even if infrequent, can create a strong reinforcement loop that encourages continued gambling.

  • Socioeconomic Status: Individuals with lower class status might gamble in hopes of improving their financial situation, while those with higher status might gamble as a form of high-stakes entertainment.

Understanding risk factors is crucial for developing effective prevention and treatment strategies for gambling addiction. Addressing psychological and environmental factors, providing education about the risks and offering support for mental health issues can help mitigate the development of gambling problems.

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Making yourself aware of risk factors can put you in the right headspace to recognize symptoms of Gambling Addiction in yourself or a loved one. Below, we outline a series of common symptoms of Problem Gambling:

Preoccupation with Gambling

  • Constantly thinking about gambling, planning the next gambling activity or finding ways to get money to gamble.

Need to Gamble with Increasing Amounts

  • Feeling a need to gamble with larger sums of money to achieve the same level of excitement or satisfaction.

Repeated Unsuccessful Attempts to Stop

  • Making multiple attempts to cut back or quit gambling, but failing to do so.

Restlessness or Irritability

  • Feeling irritable or restless when trying to reduce or stop gambling.

Gambling as an Escape

  • Gambling to escape personal insecurity, financial issues, or in an attempt to relieve feelings of anxiety or depression.

Chasing Losses

  • Returning to gamble the next day after losing money, in an attempt to get even or recoup losses.

Lying to Hide Gambling Activity

  • Lying to family members, therapists or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.

Jeopardizing Relationships and Opportunities

  • Important relationships, jobs and educational or career opportunities take a backseat on the priority ladder because of gambling.

Seeking Others for Financial Help

  • Relying on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.

Effects of Gambling Addiction

The impacts of Problem Gambling on individuals and those around them can be profound. Gambling Addiction is usually not just an individual’s problem, as there is a likelihood that it is affecting others like family members or friends as well. 

Financial Problems

  • Accumulating debts, draining savings and experiencing financial hardship due to excessive gambling. This can also lead to legal issues, such as bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Emotional and Mental Health Issues

  • Developing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or even suicidal thoughts as a result of gambling addiction.

Physical Health Problems

  • Experiencing stress-related health issues like insomnia, headaches and other bodily ailments due to the stress and anxiety of gambling losses and financial instability.

Relationship Strain

  • Suffering from strained or broken relationships with family, friends and significant others because of lying, secrecy and financial troubles tied to gambling.

Work and Academic Problems

  • Decreased productivity, job loss or poor academic performance due to the time and mental energy consumed by gambling.

Social Isolation

  • Withdrawing from social activities and becoming isolated from friends and family to hide the extent of the gambling problem.

Legal Issues

  • Engaging in illegal activities, such as theft or fraud, to obtain money for gambling or to cover debts.

Treatment options for Gambling Addiction

Recognizing the risk factors and symptoms of Gambling Addiction is the first step towards recovery. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of gambling addiction, it's important to seek help. Resources like Birches Health can provide support and guidance. Remember, gambling addiction is treatable, and recovery is possible with the right help.

For immediate support with confidential online care from the comfort of your home, consider reaching out to Birches Health at (833) 483-3838 or via email at hello@bircheshealth.com. With veteran, licensed counselors, treatment options customized to individuals' needs, zero out-of-pocket costs for many and self-starting assessments to meet those struggling where they are at in the process, Birches is worth a careful look. 

Sources:

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