Getting together with friends for a game of poker or blackjack is a ton of fun. Even heading to the casino now and then can make for a great night out. However, it’s important to be able to recognize when an occasional fun pastime becomes a dangerous problem in someone’s life. Gambling addiction is a common problem, and it can have devastating consequences if the behavior goes untreated. Below are a few signs to watch for if you’re concerned that you or someone you care about is developing a gambling addiction.
Gambling is Being Used As a Coping Method
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Some gambling addicts use gambling as a coping mechanism. For these addicts, gambling is a way to escape the negative emotions and experiences they don’t want to deal with or work through. However, this usually ends up backfiring on the addict as they get trapped in vicious cycle where they gamble to cope and then cope to gamble. Now, the addict is no longer just dealing with the issues and emotions they were trying to escape by gambling, but they have to deal with the negative consequences of their frequent gambling (such as bankruptcy or strained relationships) as well.
Gambling Without Being Able to Afford it
Most casual gamblers will stop gambling once they’ve lost or reached a predetermined loss limit. They’ll treat any money they use as a bit of extra “fun money” and won’t stress too much if they’re up or down. Instead of gambling to a limit, gambling addicts will usually keep playing until they recover their money—a habit that often ends in deep losses. Furthermore, gambling addicts will gamble even if they cannot afford to lose any more money or might depend on their gambling winnings to pay bills.
Lying About Gambling or Finances
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If someone is lying about their finances or the money they’ve spent gambling, there is a possibility that they are doing so to cover up how extreme their gambling habit has gotten. Gambling addicts often feel as though they are unable to stop, so they’ll lie to their loved ones out of fear that their gambling addiction will be found out.
Gambling Has a Negative Effect on Emotions
After an evening of gambling, casual gamblers may feel slightly disappointed if they walk away with a loss, but generally won’t feel too upset as they understand that a loss is a common outcome of gambling. Gambling addicts, however, often feel guilty or depressed after gambling. They’re often aware that they have a problem and may feel remorseful or frustrated that they are not able to stop their habit.
Borrowing or Stealing Money to Gamble
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If you or your loved one has ever stolen or borrowed money for the purpose of gambling, an addiction is most likely present. A person with a gambling problem is so preoccupied with gambling and winning money that they’ll sometimes do whatever it takes to acquire money to bet with. This is usually because a gambling addict finds they need to continuously bet larger amounts with bigger risks in order to sustain the thrill that gambling provides them.
Remember that a gambling addiction doesn’t necessarily mean going to the casino every night. Compulsive gamblers like to bet on everything in an attempt to feel that rush, so you might notice changes in their behavior in other aspects of their life too. Keep an eye on your loved ones if you think they might have a gambling addiction and speak with a counsellor if you’re looking for more support.
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