Compulsive gambling is one of those habits that easily slip under the radar mainly because, unlike drugs or alcohol, it doesn’t have a direct physical side-effect. The real problem is evident in one’s finances and since bank accounts and financial records are not easily assessible, other people don’t notice until it is too late. Nevertheless, there are signs. But we will address them in this post.
Gambling as an addiction
Any addiction is bad, unpredictable and sneaky. There is no real defence against an addiction except abstinence. It is a good argument to make, that if you never started gambling in the first place you would never become a gambler. Therefore, the best advice any GA (Gambler’s Anonymous) member will give a newbie is to avoid it altogether. You never know what you might unleash when you open those doors.
Are you concerned you might have a gambling problem? If you are reading this article, it means you are willing to get help and can stop the habit before it becomes worse. If you suspect a family member or friend is a compulsive gambler, this post can help you identify the signs so you can get them professional help.
How do you know you have a gambling problem?
It is easy to tell. Most times you know within yourself but still hang on to the false belief that you can quit on your own. This is denial. Like any other addiction, the brain quickly adjusts to gambling. The sooner you admit you have a problem the better.
- Your most passionate aspect of sports is now “gambling”
If you no longer look forward to weekend football with the thought of getting a good seat at the stadium or how many points ahead your team is on the table, there might be a problem. Instead, if your focus has strayed towards the odds on Paddy Power then it is definitely not good. What started as a play thing has now overshadowed your love for sports.
- You have started making last minute unplanned bets
When you start behaving this way, it means the addiction is taking a more permanent seat in your life. Once you notice this habit, make attempts to correct it or talk to someone.
- You are more interested in losses
Are you more interested in losses or placing new bets to cover previous ones? Healthy bets usually begin with a positive attitude. The moment you start betting against wins or to cover losses, you are no longer in control.
- You are borrowing money to gamble
This is a major sign that you have eaten into your reserves. Borrowing money to bet so you can pay back is a big problem. You are not guaranteed a win and if you lose, you sink deeper in debt.
- You ask yourself “Do I have a gambling problem?”
The moment you ask yourself this question, the answer doesn’t matter. It means you have probably done something you are not proud of and are beginning to question your behaviour. But it is also a good sign because now you know it is time to stop.
If you have identified yourself as a problem gambler from these signs, it doesn’t mean there is no hope. On the contrary, it is a sign that you are willing to change.
Start by talking to somebody you trust, or identify the nearest Gambler’s Anonymous meeting in your area. You will always be welcome with open arms.