The Characteristics of Problem Gambling

Gambling can be a source of enjoyment when done in a sensible manner. Most people who gamble do so within their financial means but, for others, gambling can become an obsession that takes control of their lives. What started out as an enjoyable activity can quickly become something that preoccupies their every waking moment. Some will become obsessed with thoughts of where they can obtain money to allow them to continue gambling.

A problem gambler may begin to rack up mountains of debt and will become moody and withdrawn as he or she worries about how to repay these debts.

When Gambling Becomes a Problem

Gambling becomes a problem when:

  • it begins to have a negative impact on a person’s life;
  • it starts to take over and causes that person to neglect other areas of their life; or
  • it leads to financial hardship.

Gambling has become easily accessible thanks to the advent of technology. There is no longer a need for someone to leave their home to go to the local bingo hall or betting shop in order to gamble. The internet is full of websites offering individuals the chance to play casino style games designed to draw them in and keep them coming back for more.

One of the biggest problems with online gambling is that it can be done in secret. It is possible for someone to gamble hundreds or thousands of pounds from their mobile device while sitting in front of the TV, all the while their spouse could be oblivious.

Compulsive Behaviour

A gambling addiction causes a person to engage in compulsive behaviour that is out of their control. Compulsions can occur suddenly or can be caused by external stimuli such as seeing gambling adverts on the TV or reading about someone who has won a large sum on the lottery. Once that person starts thinking about gambling, he or she will be unable to stop thinking about it until they satisfy their craving.

A common characteristic of a problem gambler is being unable to stop regardless of whether or not he or she is winning or losing. Some will only stop when they have nothing left to gamble with. And the more the person is in debt and ‘needs’ to win, the greater the compulsion and the more that person will return to gambling again and again.

Common Traits Displayed by Problem Gamblers

Problem gamblers often report feeling a preoccupation with gambling beforehand. They may get to the stage where nothing else matters to them except gambling. It is similar to the cravings felt by alcoholics and drug users before they drink or get their fix.

Problem gamblers may also fear that they are going to miss an opportunity to win if they wait to gamble. They become engrossed with thoughts of winning and what they will do with the money if they do win. They may become excited before gambling and at the anticipation of a big win. They will often feel irritation or anger if they are unable to place a bet.

Problem gamblers may engage in superstitious behaviour before or during gambling in a bid to increase their chances of winning. If they win, they may feel elated and confident. They may begin to anticipate their next gamble.

However, if they lose, then they could be plagued with feelings of remorse or guilt and may be haunted by the fear of their spouse discovering their secret. They will also be under immense stress and will worry about where they are going to find the money to replace what they have spent.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one recognise any of the above characteristics, it is time to get help. Addiction Helper is available to answer any questions you may have and can provide information on where to get the treatment you need. Call us today.

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