Gambling should be something that brings you excitement and enjoyment in your free time. You can test your luck and win prizes whilst also fully understanding the risks and benefits involved. However, excessive gambling can lead to problems. Those who gamble too much and allow it to affect other areas of their lives are often suffering from compulsive gambling disorder.
If you think you may have been gambling too much lately and would like to understand more about the risks of problem gambling, read on for a full guide on compulsive gambling disorder.
Compulsive gambling causes
There’s no definitive answer to what exactly causes compulsive gambling. What we do know though, is that different people are affected differently and there are lots of factors that may influence how a person is affected by gambling. There might be some cases where compulsive gambling behavior is caused by greed and chasing losses however, most cases are caused by the following:
A lot of those most at risk of developing compulsive gambling behaviors are people struggling financially. If you struggle to make ends meet, the idea of earning lots of money quickly will be highly attractive. Gambling is something that offers big wins based on luck and some players can win huge amounts of money in a short time. Because of this, someone who is in financial difficulty may choose to gamble what little money they have to try and increase it.
Unfortunately, winning never happens regularly and can’t solve financial problems apart from extremely lucky cases. A player who is not doing well financially may keep coming back to try to win more and more whilst never reaching the amount they need. This creates a vicious cycle that can trap you in a never-ending struggle.
Those who have a lot going on in their lives, lots of stress in work, relationships or education often turn to entertainment to escape. Everyone loves to relax and destress after a long day but if it starts to negatively affect your life you may have a problem. Compulsive gamblers will prioritize gambling and other forms of reality escape over more important issues in their life such as eating, work, sleeping and more.
A compulsive gambler will often lose track of time whilst playing and can spend hours playing the same game over and over. This form of reality escape is definitely unhealthy and can cause serious problems in your life if left unchecked.
Casino games and betting is a great way to get regular thrills. Nothing is more exciting than betting a big amount and crossing your fingers, hoping that luck is on your side. Lots of people enjoy adrenaline rushes but as with other causes, when it starts to negatively affect your life it becomes a problem.
As with other adrenaline seeking behavior, there are risks involved with gambling and it’s important to limit your playing so you don’t risk too much. It can be tempting to bet large amounts every night to feel the adrenaline but after a while, you will be chasing your losses.
Symptoms of problem gambling
Millions of people love to gamble but for some of us, it can lead to problems and addiction if not kept in check. If you think you or someone you know might be developing a compulsive gambling disorder or having problems with gambling behavior, check the following symptoms:
- New or unpaid credit cards – Credit cards are a great way to manage your finances and they have a lot of great benefits if used correctly. They can also be incredibly damaging to your finances if not kept in check. You should always make sure you can pay off your outstanding balance each month to avoid incurring any extra charges and interest. Never accept credit cards with limits larger than you can pay off within one month.
- Not sharing gambling activities out of fear of being judged – If you’d have trouble explaining your gambling habits to friends or family you may have a problem with compulsive gambling. Gambling in moderation is fun and enjoyed by millions but if you are gambling too much you may feel uneasy about telling someone about it.
- You have arguments about money with your family – Financial troubles are something that affects nearly all of us at some point in our lives. It’s ok to have a problem but gambling isn’t something you should be doing to try and fix it. If you regularly have arguments with your family about gambling and finances, then it may be time to seek help.
- Struggling to focus at work or school – If you have a compulsive gambling disorder you may find yourself regularly thinking about your next gambling session. If you need to be focused on work or studying this can be incredibly distracting. If you think that gambling may be influencing your ability to work or study, then you may have a gambling problem.
- You can’t imagine taking a day off of gambling – For lots of people gambling, every day is fairly normal. If you can’t imagine not gambling at least once in a day though, you might have a problem. You should be able to stop and take breaks from gambling whenever you need to.
- Considering breaking the law to have money to gamble – If you’re having thoughts about committing crimes such as stealing or fraud to have enough money to gamble then it’s definitely time to seek help for your behavior. This kind of action will only lead to worse problems in your life.
- You abandon your hobbies – Hobbies are a great source of enjoyment in our lives. It’s important to have a healthy hobby, particularly ones that encourage socializing and exercise. If you’ve found that your gambling means you’re spending less time with your hobby, then you may need to get help for a compulsive gambling disorder.
- Believing that your next gambling session will be different – It can be tempting to always look forward to your next gambling session and think about all the ways in which is could alleviate your money troubles. This kind of thinking is dangerous though and can lead to excessive gambling and a compulsive disorder.
What can you do to protect yourself from gambling addiction problems?
Of course, not everyone is at risk of developing gambling additions but it’s impossible to know for sure until it happens. You can take measures to avoid developing a gambling compulsion disorder though. If you think you might be at risk of developing problem behaviors with gambling it’s best to stay away and not take the risk. Those who are suffering from financial problems or have issues with reality escape and thrill-seeking behaviors are most at risk.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you’re protected from developing a gambling addiction:
- Set a Gambling Limit on Your Account – Most online casinos will allow you to set up some kind of limit on your account. These mean that the amounts you can deposit and bet each month will be limited to the amount you set. These are a great way to keep track of exactly how much you’re betting and make sure that gambling isn’t taking too much of your budget. Everyone who enjoys gambling should set an account limit as it’s just good sense.
- Enable to Reality Check Option – Lots of online casinos will offer you the chance to set a reality check which pops up after a certain amount of time. This feature allows you to set just how long you want to gamble. It will pop up once the time you set expires, letting you know how long you’ve been playing and giving you the option to stop. Reality checks are a great feature if you lose track of time whilst playing.
- Self-exclusion – People who have developed signs of problem gambling and need to take a break can set up a self-exclusion. This allows you to block yourself from accessing your account on a casino for a certain amount of time. Most casinos will have options to block your account for between a week and a year.
- Visit Responsible Gambling Sites – If you need more resources to help solve your problem gambling or would just like to learn more about the condition and how to prevent it, there are lots of resources available online.
GamCare is the leading provider of free information, advice, and support for anyone affected by problem gambling in the UK. Their services are confidential and non-judgemental.m
Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem & help others to do the same.
On BeGambleAware you’ll find advice and get access to free and confidential help both online and by phoning the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133.
National Problem Gambling Clinic
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust is a large and diverse organization, providing health care services for people with a wide range of physical and mental health needs. They are a leading provider of addiction treatment and recovery services based in London