There are millions of people that engage in one or another gambling activity. While gambling can be considered a fun activity to engage in with your spare cash, gambling can also develop into an addiction that affects not only you but also those you are close to and can lead to severe financial problems.
Like most activities on Earth, gambling has both its good side and its bad side. Let us go over them.
Here are 4 of the advantaged of gambling:
- It can be fun, especially when done with friends
- It is one of the simplest ways to make money on an exponential level
- You need very little knowledge to get started
- There are a variety of methods of gambling you can engage in
Here are 4 of the disadvantages of gambling:
- You can easily lose money
- Statistically, most gamblers find it hard to maintain success
- It is disapproved by some people, which can include friends and family
- You can find yourself getting addicted and in deep financial problems
While gambling may have its advantages, it can be argued it has just as many disadvantages. However, in this article, we will be focusing on what gambling addiction is, what Ludomia is, gambling alternatives you may be interested in, as well as helpful resources you can use as a gambler.
What is Gambling Addiction?
A person that is addicted is someone who finds themselves performing an activity even though it may hurt them and their loved ones. While not all addictions may be life-threatening, addiction displays an inability for one to control themselves. Gambling addiction is considered by a lot of researchers to be a mental disorder that can be likened to disorders such as Kleptomania and substance abuse.
People who are addicted to gambling tend to display symptoms that vary from mild to intense. In the next section of this article, we will be covering the different main types of gamblers:
The Problem Gambler
Here are the signs of a problem gambler:
While the problem gambling isn’t completely addictive, their actions are not entirely under their control
Their gambling behavior interferes to some degree in their day-to-day life.
They tend to lie about their spending habits to those closest to them
At this stage, they might behind to realize they are slowly losing their ability to stop themselves from gambling
The Compulsive Gambler
Here are the signs of a compulsive gambler:
- This person likely finds it difficult to drop the betting slip
- A compulsive gambler cares very little about the consequences attached
- Even when in serious debt, they will continue to seek new gambling opportunities
- A compulsive gambler can also be referred to as a pathological gambler
The Binge Gambler
Here are the signs of a binge gambler:
- A binge gambler is one that shows an uncontrollable desire to gamble only during specific periods.
- The periodic nature of their gambling habits may give them and their loved ones the impression they are in control of their habits.
- They tend to be able to go for weeks and even as long as months without showing any gambling addiction.
- They only display their compulsive behavior when gambling and rarely anywhere or anytime else.
Signs a Person is Addicted to Gambling
If you are wondering whether you or someone close to you has a problem with gambling, there are a few signs you can be on the lookout for. These are some of them:
- There is a continuous need to increase the amount of money used for gambling in order to achieve the same amount of thrill as before.
- When they stop gambling for some time, it puts them in a state where they are easily irritable. You might find them walking about more as they feel restless.
- They repeatedly failed at attempts to stop gambling.
- When they feel negative emotions such as sadness or depression, they tend to turn to gamble for relief.
- They are willing to and actively choose to lie about their spending habits even to loved ones and family members.
- They may be in debt as a result of their continued gambling habits.
While this list has been created to assist you in determining if you or someone else has a problem with gambling, this list by no means at all should be used as a substitute for medical advice. If you feel you have a problem, you should consult a therapist or a medical professional for advice. Getting advice from a trained medical professional can help reveal some underlying cause of your addiction which might include substance abuse, a number of mental disorders, depression, and others as well. Hence, it is important you visit a professional if in doubt.
What Causes Ludomania?
You might be wondering what Ludomania is? Ludomania is the medical term used to describe gambling addiction in humans. It is agreed upon by most medical professionals when determining the cause of gambling that there is no distinct reason behind it. There are a couple of factors that might cause someone to have gambling problems, such as biological factors, psychological factors, social factors, as well as comorbidity. Not to mention factors such as the age you started gambling and how you were raised. Let us go over these factors for better insight:
Proven by experts, it has been shown that some aspects of gambling share many traits with that of substance abuse and different forms of addiction which goes to show that biological factors are likely to play a significant part in ludomania. There have been studies that have proven that people who attempt to stop gambling often face even more severe physical symptoms than substance addicts when they attempt to withdraw. There are also images of the brains of gambling addicts that show signs of neurological responses similar to that of cocaine addicts. The chemicals your brain produces when aroused tend to be reduced in the bodies of gambling addicts, forcing them to engage in more gambling activities in order to raise it back up.
Your view on gambling as described in the “Gambler’s Fallacy” can have a huge impact on your chances of developing a problem with it. To elaborate further, the Gambler’s addiction is an incorrect belief that random events that happen in life can affect future independent events. As a result, if a random occurrence has occurred several times in the past, we tend to believe that it will occur less frequently in the future.
One example that is considered the most popular example of this fallacy happened in the year 1913. In a game of roulette, the ball had landed on the color black 26 consecutive times. A lot of gamblers lost their money because they felt that things were bound to change. It was in this example that the name “Monte Carlo Fallacy” was coined.
It should be noted that other factors do exist, such as cognitive bias, the illusion of control, as well as superstitious beliefs, and overconfidence.
A number of factors can have a role to play in a ludomania patient’s problem. Stress at work or in their personal lives might force them to engage in gambling activities either as a means to escape debt or for the fun of it. If such external factors that push the gambler to consider gambling in the first place persist, it can easily become a problem. It should be made aware, however, that these social factors are rarely the leading causes of addictions.
There are also cases where gambling is encouraged by the habits of family members and friends. This can be the most dangerous factor as most gamblers will find the support they need to continue down the path of gambling. This is especially true when exposed to gambling at a young age. It should be noted that factors such as depression, sadness, and loneliness can also lead to one suffering from Ludomania.
Comorbidity is referred to as the presence of one or more factors and/or conditions that can occur aside from the primary condition facing the Ludomania patient. There are many factors that can be considered to play a role in one developing Ludomania.
Here are a few of them:
- A drinking problem
- Substance abuse
- Mental disorders such as personality disorder and depression
- Anxiety problems
If you have any one of these issues and don’t have a gambling problem, you might be lucky and should consult a medical professional for advice. This might be crucial whether you have a gambling issue. Early treatment can save you from a lot of difficulties.
Gambling’s Harmful Effects
Gambling can have many harmful effects, with some being hard to notice. Here are a few aspects of your life that might suffer from a gambling addiction problem:
When you gamble, you use actual money. And when you have a problem with gambling, this can easily affect your finances negatively. You might find yourself in increasing debt, which might force you to sell your prized possessions, your car, and even in some cases, your house. What is worse is that even after suffering these kinds of losses, you may still be faced with the compulsive desire to continue gambling.
This is one area of your life that, when damaged, can have truly lasting effects. People with gambling problems might find the strain that comes with continued loss very draining. They may find it difficult to concentrate while at work and may fall into depression. This could easily lead to loss of job, failed relationships, as well as an overall depressed outlook on life.
Family and Relationships
Aside from the gambler, even those close to them can suffer as well. The pain attached to watching someone you care about slowly destroy themselves can be devastating for most. Children of people with ludomania statistically grow up suffering abuse both physical and mental and may themselves develop a gambling problem or some other mental disorder in the later parts of their lives.
Work and Career
People with ludomania might find themselves feeling depressed and lacking motivation. This might discourage them from putting the right amount of effort into their self-development and their work. This is dangerous as it can lead to loss of job and might even affect your ability to secure a new job. As gambling requires money, you might find yourself engaging in criminal activities to support your addiction.
Is Addiction To Gambling A Common Problem?
Gambling for most countries is considered among the main factors behind their economy. According to research by experts, about 1.6 billion people each year engage in one form of gambling or the other. The same research goes on to state that 4.6 billion people admitted to having gambled at one point in their life. With the advancement in technology, you can now gamble from the comfort of your home, which makes it even easier. And as a way to encourage more people, a lot of gambling bodies offer new users as well as returning users discounts designed to keep them coming back again and again. When you consider all this, it becomes very clear that gambling is a very popular problem.
How Do I Get Rid Of My Gambling Addiction?
If you feel either you or someone close to you has a gambling problem, there are numerous resources you can take advantage of so as to help yourself. You might want to consider medical treatment, therapy, and counseling, and in some cases, even group support can be very helpful. You might decide to try any of these methods or even combine them.
While there isn’t any drug or medication right now that magically handles gambling, there are still drugs you can take which can help reduce your need to gamble. These drugs work by reducing your need for the adrenaline that usually comes with gambling. You should consult a medical professional on whether such a drug would be safe or appropriate for you to use.
Therapy and Counseling
Psychotherapy can be an effective tool to help those faced with gambling addictions. As a large number of people with ludomania often have a lot of underlying disorders, therapy sessions can be a great way of identifying these cases. This is one of these reasons why psychotherapy is quite popular, especially with its high success rate. In addition, there are a number of trained medical professionals you can meet that are capable of providing for you the mental care you need as you aim to recover from your addiction.
Group Support and Self-Help
Gamblers’ Anonymous is one example of a group support system, and there are many others. Group support systems can be very helpful as you find out you aren’t alone in your struggle. You get the opportunity to meet others that are going through the same challenges as you. This can be encouraging, especially on days where you feel like you can’t push forward. The advice and insight you can gain from these support meetings can be truly impressive and are considered by many past gambling addicts as the reason behind their ability to move beyond their addiction.
If group support systems aren’t your preferred method, or you prefer to combine it with something else, you can also consider self-help. Here are a few recommendations of self-help offered by the American Association of Psychiatry to help gamblers manage their addictions:
- You can ask your friends and family for support as you battle your addiction
- There are a number of fun activities you can decide to engage with to distract yourself from the need to gamble
- When you feel the need to gamble, try delaying it for extended periods of time so as to slowly ween yourself from your cravings.
- Do your best to focus on the consequences that will follow your continued gambling.
How Can You Assist Someone Dealing With Addiction?
There are many people who feel that their gambling is manageable and doesn’t negatively affect them. However, there are others who acknowledge that there is a problem and are willing to seek help. If you have someone that fits this description, you might be wondering what you can do to help. Here are some tips to aid you in this regard:
- Be supportive and don’t be judgemental
When you talk to someone dealing with gambling addiction, you might find yourself feeling puzzled about how they got to that point in their life. While you may be surprised or feel a certain way, you don’t want to have that energy show itself, especially in front of the person with ludomania, as this can make them feel discouraged and hopeless (the exact opposite of the help you want to offer).
- Don’t offer to give them money to clear their debts
While offering them money might seem like a good idea, the gambler might find it difficult to use the money in the right way. Even if they manage to clear their debts, they would now have increased room to borrow more and continue their gambling addiction. This would end up being counterproductive.
- Do your best to be a part of their treatment process
You can decide to assist your friend or loved one that has a gambling problem by paying for their treatment. Aside from paying for their treatment, your continued presence in their life can be relaxing and even seen as a pillar of support in times they feel down. You want to use a loving tone when talking to show that you are there for them.
Other Options Aside From Gambling
When you decide to quit gambling, it doesn’t just end there as you have to maintain your abstinence for the years that follow. This can be difficult, so one way you can help yourself is by finding a fun activity to fill the void. Here are a few activities you can consider as healthy substitutes to gambling:
Participation in sports
You can take up a sport such as hiking, rafting, or even mountain biking. These types of sports can be very exciting and fun to participate in. Also, they can help provide the needed adrenaline rush that can even sometimes match or exceed that you would get from gambling.
You can decide to take up public speaking classes or even engage in social groups such as a book club. There are also volunteering opportunities you can engage in that will help you keep your mind off gambling. It is also a great way for you to integrate back into society.
Find a passion
There are a considerable amount of things people consider their passion. Music, painting, even video gaming can be considered a passion. These sorts of activities can help keep your mind off your addiction and help refocus that energy into more productive activities. You can decide to share your passion with others that share similar interests with you, which can help you feel less lonely and bored.
Gamblers Will Find These Resources Very Useful
There is an abundance of helpful resources currently available that recovering gamblers may find useful on their path to overcoming their addiction. It is essential to note that one method might not be sufficient and so considering the use of two or more methods would be more effective. The options we will be going over in this section of the article cover treatment methods such as therapy and group sessions. Here are 2 resources you can use to battle your addiction problems:
- Gamblers Anonymous
This is an organization that has been present for a long time now. There are group meetings that are held around the world. They offer support for different types of addictions, such as substance abuse and alcohol. The only requirement to join is that you have the willingness to quit gambling. When you join, you are introduced to their 12 step program, aimed at providing you with the help you need.
- Problem Gambling
This is an online initiative also referred to as Gambling. This organization is located in Toronto, Canada. Their website has a lot of in-depth information on the problems associated with gambling and how best to overcome it. Their aim as an organization is to provide you with the knowledge to identify when you have a gambling problem and tips you can use to overcome it.