What are the signs and symptomps of a gambling addiction? Test yourself.
Why go to the trouble of working hard, when all you need is that special moment of fortune? Just buy a lottery ticket and let God or destiny do the rest. Let them shove enormous amount of money your way and show everybody that you are the chosen one.
Games are supposed to be fun, exciting ways to spend one’s leisure time. With games of chance everywhere; TV ads touting what you could do if you won the lottery; and billboards promoting the excitement of casinos, sports betting, track and off-track betting, online gambling, and more, there’s no shortage of opportunities to win or lose money.
Many people think of winning these games and obtaining lots of money as the way to ultimate happiness. For most people, gambling is a way to make a dull day a little more interesting, or a way to spend free time with friends. But some people get so hooked on gambling, they have problems stopping or controlling themselves. They may become problem gamblers or pathological gamblers. The difference is how deep they are in trouble, and whether they can will themselves to give up their habits or not.
Gambling addiction, or gambling disorder, is a condition characterized by a person’s inability to stop gambling, even when consecutive losses begin to take a toll on their relationships, finances, and career. Despite negative consequences to their physical and mental health, as well as to their familial, social, and work relationships, gambling addicts continue to gamble, and even cross moral and legal boundaries to do so.
Are you addicted to gambling?
These are the behaviours typical of gambling addicts. Do you see yourself thinking along these lines and repeating these behaviors?
Gambling with the purpose of “earning” money.
Experiencing conflicts with parents or partners due to gambling.
Being absent from work or school because of gambling.
Spending more money gambling than you can afford.
Gambling or “staying in the game” longer than you originally intended.
Acquiring debt to obtain money you can use to gamble.
Committing fraud or theft to obtain money you can use to gamble.
Attempting to recoup your losses by doubling down and increasing your bets (chasing losses).
Oscillating between periods of obsessive gambling and periods of compulsively working to try to cover your debts.
Being convinced there exists a method for overcoming “the machine” or “the house”.
Believing fortune or luck is on your side, and the big win is just around the corner.
Being convinced fortune will come your way if you always play your favorite machine, and feeling that if someone else plays “your” machine, they may get away with “your” money.
Problem gamblers and pathological gamblers
Problem gambling is an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. It is a progressive disorder characterized by a continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling, a preoccupation with gambling and obtaining money to gamble, irrational thinking, and continued engagement in the behavior despite adverse consequences.
Pathological gambling, however, crosses the line from temporary disorder to a chronic and progressive mental illness, defined as persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior meeting at least four or more of the following criteria in twelve months.
These are the official criteria that must be met to warrant the diagnosis of pathological gambling. Most of the criteria for behavioral addictions are met in both categories See previous Blog 11 signs of addiction.
Tolerance: needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired level of excitement.
Withdrawal: being restless or irritable when attempting to stop or cut down on gambling.
Loss of control: having made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
Preoccupation: having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble.
Escape: gambling to improve mood or escape emotional problems (e.g. helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression).
Chasing losses: returning to gamble on another day after losing money gambling, in an attempt to break even.
Lying: trying to hide the extent of their gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.
Illegal acts: breaking the law to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses.
Bailout: relying on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.
Sanja Rozman is a medical doctor, psychotherapist and author of 8 books on behavioral addictions.
Read more in her book Serenity: How to Recognize, Understand, and Recover from Behavioral Addictions
that is about to be published by Brandylane Publishers Inc., Belle Isle Books.