Gambling is supposed to be a fun and harmless activity, but what happens when you find yourself with an unhealthy obsession to gamble? Gambling addiction is rapidly growing in the US. However, it has only recently been officially identified as a medical disorder. Whether it’s at a brick-and-mortar or online casino, compulsive gambling can have long-lasting and negative effects on your life.
In honor of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the OUSC team wants to raise awareness about this condition and the importance of responsible gaming. Keep reading to learn more about this disorder, it’s causes, symptoms, as well as treatment options.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
Ten million people, about 2.6% of the total population in the US, are dealing with some kind of gambling addiction. Also known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling, this condition is an impulse-control disorder. Those suffering from this condition are unable to control their inner impulse to engage in such activities.
Even though they’re aware of the negative consequences it can cause to themselves and their loved ones, people with a gambling problem will keep caving into their addiction. Statistics show that males have higher rates of addiction to gambling than women. However, increased accessibility, new technology, and a shift in social norms are tipping the scales towards an eventual balance.
What Causes an Addiction to Gambling?
Although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of gambling addiction, there are some risk factors that appear to ignite an already existing urge to gamble. Some of the main factors include:
According to statistics, men are most likely to develop a gambling addiction. This might be due to social norms and other accessibility issues. However, the recent tendency seems to show a balancing out of genders regarding this condition.
Strong Surrounding Influences
An environment charged with vice and other addicts has a strong influence on its inhabitants to develop the same addictions. In the US, around 15% in children and 50% in spouses of gambling addicts have experienced some kind of abusive behavior and trauma. This is enough cause for them to seek refuge in something familiar, like gambling.
Existing Mental Disorders
Pre-existing mental conditions such as ADHD, OCD, and others have been shown to be precursors to developing addictions to gambling.
Specific Personality Traits
People who tend to be impulsive, competitive and workaholic, among others, tend to be more at risk or inclined to develop a gambling addiction.
Four Signs of a Gambling Problem
Most times, addicts know that what they’re doing is wrong and will develop different strategies to hide their disease. There are numerous signs and symptoms that indicate a gambling problem. Here are some of the main ones:
Being SecretiveGambling addicts try to hide their disease by being overly secretive about where they’re going or what they’re doing online. A clear sign is how restless they get when asked about it.
Loss of ControlThe urge to gamble will make gamblers feel dominated by it. This is especially noticeable when they can’t hide it, afford it or stop it.
Everyday LifeProblems All addictions bring about other problems. For gamblers, these issues include financial problems, work-related issues, and relationship breakdowns.
Emotional Distress on Friends and FamilyProblem gamblers will inevitably cause concern among their closest friends and family members. The greater it gets, the deeper the gambling problem it indicates.
Seek Help for Gambling Addiction
The healing process for gambling addiction is hard and takes time. It’s very important to pay attention to the signs of gambling addiction and look for help as soon as possible. You can check out this Gambling Addiction Test to confirm whether or not you should think about getting help for problem gambling.
Visit our Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gaming Guide to find a complete list of treatment centers in the US, as well as a list of anonymous hotlines in each state.