Someone who suffers with a gambling addiction suffers from the same psychological experiences as an individual who has an alcohol or drug addiction. It is often brushed off as less severe an addiction due to there being no physical damage being done to the body. However, suffering with an addiction to gambling still coincides with the financial burden and stress as well as the psychological withdrawals, depression, and anxiety that you get with any type of addiction.
How to identify a gambling addict
There are some clear indicators that you can look out for if you suspect that a loved one is suffering with an addiction to gambling.
The first thing to notice is constantly talking about gambling. If they are reliving past wins or gambling experiences, it might be that they have this on their mind frequently. In addition to this, if they tend to be playing games on their phone or computer a lot that involves money risks, this is something to be aware of. It's important to remember, these games are designed to be addictive and captivating. They draw players in by awarding small victories, enticing you to continue playing.
Another important sign to pay attention to is if an individual is lying or being secretive about their gambling habits, this alongside hiding bank statements can be an indicator that they are embarrassed of the amount of time and money they are spending on games or bets which could point to a more serious problem. Furthermore, the dismissal of problems caused such as legal consequences and debts that are coming through but being ignored are a cause for concern.
Something else important to look out for is if they begin to express guilt or remorse after their gambling. Gambling can be fun in small doses but when done regularly, a lot of money and time can be lost in the games. If your loved one is getting lost in the bets, they might start to become guilty or remorseful about the losses they have made whilst gambling. Despite this feeling, they may continue to place bets and play games.
Other factors to be aware of is denial that there is a problem, borrowing money or selling possessions, losing interest in other aspects of life and continuing despite negative impacts.
How to help someone with a gambling addiction
If you begin to suspect a loved one has a gambling addiction or a problem with betting, there are ways that you can help. The first most important thing is to approach them in a non-confrontational way. When somebody you love is suffering from an addiction it is important to ensure that you are careful not to talk to them in a way that seems condescending and patronising as this can make the situation worse. Everybody wants somebody that they can talk to about their worries and problems so it's vital to ensure you convey your concern in a caring, open way. It’s important to seek help if you are unsure of what to do, a great place to start is to educate yourself on the problem so you can decipher a way to help.
There are lots of support services available such as New Leaf Recovery to help a gambler but also help those around the addict who are suffering as well. A gambling addiction can be successfully treated in the same way that other addictions can be. Cognitive behaviour therapy is proven to be most successful.