Reading Time: 4 minutes
Let’s be completely honest – there is a little bit of a gambler in all of us. Whether you play the stock market, like to scratch off lottery tickets, play slots or bet on sports, chances are you gamble a little. The problem however is when you start gambling a lot. So much that you can’t actually stop gambling.
Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is a type of impulse-control disorder. When someone has this disorder, they honestly can’t control their impulse to gamble. Even if they know that gambling is causing them financial strain or causing problems with their mental focus or relationships, they simply can’t stop. In addition, compulsive gamblers can’t control the impulse to gamble. Gambling is all they think about and the only thing they want to focus on. In fact, if they try to stop, many of them have a difficult time stopping. It’s just that they are so addicted that they can’t “stay off the bet”. This illness often leads to strained relationships, feelings of depression, lower self-worth, suicidal thoughts and various other problems.
As the US National Library of Medicine notes, another problem compulsive gamblers face is that their addiction can lead to unemployment and financial catastrophe. In fact, everyday honest and hardworking people will do crazy things to get more betting money. They may even borrow or steal from others. They may even do things they never thought they would, like engage in prostitution or rob a stranger. Many gamblers feel as if their lives are spinning totally out of control. The good news is that there is help available. Even the person that seems the most hopeless can actually get over their gambling addiction and regain control.
The first step is recognizing and acknowledging the problem and then calling a gambling addiction hotline for help. But, how do you know when to call the hotline? Here are some tips to help you figure it out:
- Call if your gambling is a problem and is harming your life. For instance, if you’ve tried to stop but can’t, if you spend more and more time and money on your next gambling fix, don’t care about how much you lose, or simply don’t care how much your gambling has affected yourself or others, you likely need help.
- Call if you are secretive about your gambling addiction. You might gamble but you don’t let anyone know just how much you gamble. In fact, you may sneak out or lie about how much you really spend. Simply because you feel others won’t understand what you’re going through or may look down on you. Instead, you focus on winning and how you will share your good news when you hit it big.
- Call if you have a very difficult time controlling your gambling impulse. Once you start gambling, you can’t stop. Its like your feet become glued to the spot and you couldn’t walk away. Another telltale sign is that you are so compelled to gamble that you will gamble away all your rent money, your spending money and even your grocery money too. You won’t stop until you have no money in the bank and an overdrawn account.
- Call if you gamble even when you’re dead broke. Another clue is when you get more and more determined to recoup your losses. You may gamble until you’ve spent your very last buck and then move on to your relative’s money and spend that too. You may even spend your kids’ money or money allocated for bills. Nothing is off limits – including your children’s money. In your heart, you may feel as if the only way to get the money is to win it- not earn it working so you keep on going, regardless of the pain it causes you or your loved ones.
- Call if your family and friends are very concerned about you. If your loved ones are concerned, you should be concerned. Don’t ignore their concerns. Instead, head their warnings and hear them out. Take a really good look at how your addiction is affecting yourself and others around you. It is actually a good thing to ask for help. There is no shame in seeking help. Millions of people suffer from gambling addiction every year and the ones that get better, ask for help.
Gambling addiction is real and it can harm you, your family and those around you. If you feel preoccupied with gambling, are secretive about how much you gamble, your family is concerned about you, and you can’t stop even though you are broke, you must seek help now. By calling for help, you will speak to a trained professional and you will take the first step towards change your life – start today!