Many individuals who ended up developing a gambling addiction typically started out as responsible dependable individuals. These individuals, after undergoing certain experiences or after being influenced by certain factors, find themselves experiencing a change in behaviour that escalates into a gambling addiction. Common factors that result in the development of a gambling addiction include a traumatic experience, debt, retirement, job-related stress, depression or anxiety, presence of other addictions, loneliness, and environmental factors such as gambling friends or easy access to gambling opportunities.
Once a gambling addiction takes hold, the addict will do almost anything, without caring about the consequences, just for an opportunity to gamble. This includes telling lies to cover up their gambling habits or justifying them. Lies that are typically told by gambling addicts include:
I don’t have a gambling problem
When there is clear evidence of compulsive gambling and the individual outright denies having a gambling problem, it might be best to immediately stage an intervention. This is because a denial in light of glaring evidence is a clear sign that the gambling problem has almost become a full blown addiction, or it already is one. Once gambling addiction fully sets in, the gambler becomes predictable and consistent with the habit. Such a gambler will say or do anything for an opportunity to gamble. Even after the addicted gambler suffers huge financial losses, or is at clear risk of losing all that has been achieved over the years, they will still be willing to risk it all gambling, and yet deny that a gambling problem exists. This denial is a coping mechanism on the part of the addict.
I can stop anytime I want
If the addict was truly capable of stopping, they would have stopped a long time ago after seeing the problems the addiction was causing. The addict will typically tell this lie when confronted with indisputable facts concerning their compulsive behaviour towards gambling. If the gambler sees that there is no denying that they gamble, the “I can stop anytime” lie will be told in an attempt to prove that they are in control. The gambler may even stop gambling for some days, but once they notice that they are no longer under close scrutiny, there will be a return to their gambling ways.
My gambling doesn’t hurt anyone
This lie is told by a gambler as a defence. A defence that tries to show that the act of gambling is nothing but innocent fun. But this is not true, especially in scenarios where the gambler is spending family savings, stealing or lying to get funds to gamble, gambling with family possessions, or taking out high risk loans. Furthermore, when an addiction develops, be it to alcohol, drugs, or gambling, it is not just the addict that suffers, as close family and friends are also placed at risk in one form or another.
A gambling addiction will consume a gambler alongside those closest to them, as the habit consumes more and more of the individual’s life. Compulsive or chronic gamblers have been known to lose their homes, finances, reputation, jobs, or turn violent towards family and friends. In worst case scenarios, chronic gamblers have ended up in jail or dead.
I didn’t go gambling
When the gambler is asked where they have been, the automatic response to defend an unspoken accusation is “I didn’t go gambling”. The gambler will stand by this lie, as accepting otherwise will be admitting that they are no longer in control of the habit. If this lie occurs often, it might be time for an intervention.
I didn’t touch our savings
When the gambler runs out of personal money to gamble, they will start reaching for money that isn’t theirs to spend. And the first of these funds is usually a spouse’s money or family savings. The compulsive gambler believes that any losses can be won back as long as they keep going – that the next big pay-out is just around the corner. Once the gambler starts touching the family savings, the family draws closer to financial ruin every day the gambling addiction continues unchecked.
You won’t believe what happened
This lie comes after the gambler has exhausted all other lies concerning where the money has gone. The lie will involve an unbelievable story that tries to explain how the money was lost but not gambled away. The story might involve getting robbed, investing the money in a failed project, or helping a friend. Once the compulsive gambler tells you “you won’t believe what happened…” it’s best not to believe anything that comes after.
You can trust me now
This lie will be told by the gambler in a bid to make you think that they now have their gambling problem under control. A compulsive gambler who has lost it all will be dependent on others to finance the habit, so they will need to win your trust so you can willingly give them money, which will then be spent on gambling some more. The lie is typically told to friends, spouses, or partners. Those who see through the lie will stop giving money, but the gambler will only become more insistent in the claim of now being trustworthy. They might even go as far as offering to prove trustworthiness.
I’ll never gamble again
The addict will always tell you what you want to hear as long as it gets them what they want. The “I will never gamble again” lie is typically told after a huge financial loss, legal problems, loss of job or some other complication caused by the gambling. The statement should not be believed until the gambler has received professional help for their addiction through counselling and therapy.
Until your loved one is ready to get help with overcoming their addiction, you need to avoid enabling their addiction in the following ways.
- Stop accepting their lies and turning a blind eye to the fact that there is a problem
- Stop lying on behalf of the gambler to others and covering up their errors or shortcomings
- Stop attempting to control the gambler’s behaviour by forcing them to do what you want. You can’t enforce your will on an addict. The addict has to come to their own conclusion that changes need to be made. Trying to force a gambling addict to quit will only lead to them trying to manipulate the situation by playing along with what you want to get what they want.
- Stop cooperating with the gambler and becoming a direct or indirect participant in the problem. That is participating in gambling with the addict.
If you or a loved one have a gambling addiction, don’t sleep on it. Get professional help fast before things really get out of hand.