Pathological gambling is by far one of the most prevalent and widespread behavioral addictions. The addiction typically begins in adolescence amongst men and between the ages of 25 and 40 in women. In most cases, compulsive gambling involves repetitive behaviors, and can prove to be hugely detrimental to the personal life of the afflicted man or woman. Besides the obvious financial strain, gambling addiction can cause major relationship and emotional issues. Feelings of guilt and shame are not uncommon seeing as gambling addiction is somewhat stigmatized and not as comprehensively understood as alcoholism and drug addiction. Additionally, stressful situations tend to worsen gambling problems – creating a destructive cyclical pattern in the life of the addict.
How Do I Know If I Have A Gambling Addiction?
The American Psychiatric Association concludes that if you have any 5 or more of the following symptoms, you are a diagnosable gambling addict and may want to consider seeking treatment.
- You are restless and irritable when obligations prevent you from gambling, or when you know you cannot gamble.
- You gamble in order to escape uncomfortable emotions or to relieve stress and escape from personal problems.
- You begin committing crimes in order to acquire more money for gambling.
- You begin gambling with larger sums of money in order to attempt making back past losses.
- You begin borrowing money in order to continue gambling.
- You begin needing to gamble with larger sums of money in order to feel the same excitement.
- You begin to compromise work, relationships, and potential educational or career opportunities.
- You start to lie to friends and family about the amount of time and money you spend gambling.
- You are consumed by thoughts relating to gambling – when you can gamble next, how much money you need to make back, etc.
Gambling addiction can cause major financial and emotional devastation in one’s life. Fortunately, it can be treated with some intensive therapy and continued involvement in a traditional 12-step program. If you are unsure whether or not you have a gambling addiction, Gambler’s Anonymous has comprised a list of 20 questions you may ask yourself in order to make your situation clearer. If you would like to receive help for a gambling addiction, please calls one of our trained representatives to figure out what kind of treatment options are available.