Gambling is an exciting and fun activity that has been around for thousands of years. The fun it offers is enticing, especially since people can win life-changing amounts of money.
However, the possibility of winning significant amounts of money leads some people into gambling addiction. Some gamblers fuel this desire daily and spend lots of money. In this case, gambling becomes a problem when it should be a harmless activity. This is where responsible gambling comes in.
At CasinoVibez, we are passionate about all things to do with gambling and casinos; this includes promoting responsible gambling. This guide covers how to gamble responsibly, spot gambling addiction early on, and seek help for it.
Gambling addiction, also called Ludomania, is an impulse control disorder. With this disorder, a person cannot stop gambling even when it negatively affects themself and the people around them.
Gambling addiction can manifest itself in diverse ways. The symptoms vary from person to person, depending on the type of gambling involved. Gambling often starts as an entertaining way to spend time until it gradually becomes the focus of someone’s life.
Against popular belief, being a gambling addict doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve completely lost the ability to control your gambling impulse. Some problem gamblers can manage their gambling and hide their addiction from others.
Nonetheless, you likely still have a gambling addiction if your time on gambling-related activities seriously disrupts your typical day-to-day activities.
There are many forms of gambling addiction. Some are worse than others. However, all forms of gambling addiction are serious.
Compulsive gamblers have lost a significant amount of control over their addiction. In other words, these gamblers cannot keep their urge or desire to gamble under control. Compulsive gamblers are usually so deep into their gambling addiction that they’ll continue to gamble without considering its effect on their lives.
A compulsive gambler’s actions could cause them to lose money and even destroy relationships with loved ones. These gamblers are dangerous risk-takers and are usually willing to make huge wagers even when losing could be disastrous.
While compulsive gamblers are like gambling addicts on steroids, binge gamblers are like compulsive gamblers with some sense of control. They can go for a considerably long period (several weeks or months) without exhibiting addiction symptoms. Nonetheless, their addition is still there, waiting for the right time to rear its ugly head.
For binge gamblers, the addictive behavior usually appears out of nowhere and starts wreaking havoc. Then, these gamblers may have a period where they gamble incessantly and spend a lot of money. When the addictive behavior surfaces, it’s almost impossible for the person to stop themself from gambling unless drastic action is taken.
Problem gambling keeps a gambler continually thinking about gambling or loss-chasing. However, problem gamblers are more likely to be able to control their urges and prevent gambling from getting in the way of their day-to-day life. This isn’t to say that it is good to be a problem gambler, but it is the least aggressive form of the addiction.
The symptoms or signs of gambling addiction are not always obvious. While gambling addiction signs may be easily visible in compulsive gamblers, they are quite subtle in binge and problem gamblers.
However, some symptoms or signs indicate a possible gambling addiction. Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM—5) standard, a gambler must show at least four of some common gambling symptoms below within 12 months to be diagnosed as a gambling addict. These symptoms include:
If you find yourself experiencing at least four of the listed symptoms, you should ask a qualified medical practitioner for help, such as a mental health expert. A psychiatrist can help determine whether you have a gambling addiction or exhibit symptoms of another mental health condition. Many people with gambling addiction usually suffer from other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, ADHD, and depressive disorder.
The exact causes of gambling addiction are unknown. However, there are a handful of factors that contribute to gambling addiction. These factors include mental health problems and a strong desire for money.
One of the most common causes of gambling addiction is how the human brain reacts to gambling or betting. Several credible pieces of research show that the human brain responds to a gambling win similarly to how the brain reacts to a dose of cocaine.
Research shows a correlation between deficiencies in our brain’s feel-good chemical (serotonin), our body’s neurotransmitter and stress hormone (norepinephrine), and compulsive gambling. Surprisingly, other biological causes of gambling can be traced to an individual’s genes. In other words, gambling may be hereditary (to some extent), and some individuals could be genetically predisposed to gambling addiction.
An individual’s opinion on gambling plays a massive part in deciding whether they fall victim to gambling addiction or not. Most people with gambling problems are highly optimistic about winning, so much so that they keep wagering even if their funds are low. This optimism rarely wanes, even if the person keeps losing. News of others winning big is usually a massive catalyst for addicts and can cause them to return to gambling.
Gamblers hold on to the hope that the next bet may give them their big win. They live in denial of the toll gambling has taken on them. Gamblers are usually also individuals who get hooked on gambling immediately after winning for the first time.
The urge to gamble can be even stronger if the first win is massive, especially if the gambler views this cash as “free money” to play with. Usually, the hope of another huge win combined with the perception of having “free money” to gamble with is a big push to keep gambling.
Social factors also play a crucial role in pushing individuals towards gambling addiction. Job loss, stress, desperation, and depression are social factors that can trigger the urge to gamble. Direct influence from family members can also cause gambling addiction, as can having a casino close to your home.
Though medications have not been proven to directly cause gambling addiction, using certain medicines could trigger addiction. For example, medications like antipsychotics and dopamine agonists increase the likelihood of becoming addicted.
Because gambling addiction can be subtle, many people don’t usually notice the problem until it has become a significant issue in their lives. Most individuals only see they have a gambling problem when they’ve incurred huge debts, lost their jobs, or joined in with criminal activities to source funds for gambling. Fortunately, things don’t have to get out of hand before you know you have a problem.
Whenever you notice some of the symptoms listed above, you must recognize and accept that you’re potentially dealing with a gambling addiction problem. One of the issues with gambling problems is denial. Once you notice even the subtlest of signs, you must accept the real possibility of dealing with an addiction problem and take steps to fix it. Denying will only further plunge you deeper into the issue.
If you feel like you’re visiting gambling sites a little too often or your family members are beginning to express concerns over your gambling activities, it might be time to pause and seek help.
Many people with a gambling problem don’t know how to engage in responsible gambling. The following tips can help you gamble responsibly.
Whenever you want to gamble, make sure you set a budget beforehand. Don’t go over this budget, and make sure you quit once you’ve hit this – regardless of whether you’ve won or lost.
You should be relaxed and in a good mood if you want to gamble responsibly. If you’re angry or agitated, we don’t recommend gambling. Furthermore, gambling after taking alcohol or drugs is unadvisable; many things could go wrong.
While you certainly don’t want to lose your money while gambling, you should never forget that the house always wins. This means when you head to the casino to have some fun, prepare for losses, and don’t get overly invested in the game.
Another great way to keep your gambling impulses in check is to set and stick to a gambling time limit. In the same way you stick to a budget you should stick to time limits. When gambling, time seems to move much faster. Set an alarm to ensure you don’t spend too much time gambling.
It is easy for frequent gamblers to feel sucked in and unable to break free. A great way to fix this is to take periodic breaks from gambling. If needed, pause from time to time to reflect on your gambling activities and bounce back in good spirits.
If you are concerned about your gambling behavior or that of a loved one at any point in time, you can seek help from the customer service team at most casinos. You can also get in touch with medical professionals.
The first step to dealing with a gambling problem is accepting that you have a problem. Only after this can you make conscious efforts towards fixing it. You can employ several self-help strategies to combat gambling addiction, which we’ve listed below.
One of the most effective self-help strategies you can use to rid yourself of gambling addiction is seeking support from others. Fighting addiction is much easier when you get help from close friends or family. While you may be tempted to hide your gambling problem, your chances of success can increase significantly when people who care about you get involved.
The thrill of gambling is what keeps gamblers going back to the casino time and time again. An excellent way to combat this is to engage in another activity that’s just as entertaining and thrilling. It could be playing football, playing video games, or seeing movies.
If you use gambling to relieve stress or avoid unpleasant feelings, seek healthier options that don’t come at such a great cost as being addicted to gambling.
Some people gamble because they see it as a way to socialize and meet new people. However, gambling isn’t necessarily the only way to meet new people. Other great options include exercising at the gym, watching a football match, and attending social events.
Another excellent self-help strategy to fight gambling addiction is to redesign your life. Your participation in gambling activities could result from having friends who are die-hard gamblers or being a part of a social circle that encourages gambling. Your lifestyle and people within your circle greatly influence your life; changing this and socializing at different places can help.
Joining a local peer support group is also an excellent self-help strategy for people with gambling problems. In peer support groups, you’ll find individuals struggling with similar issues. By sharing your challenges with others, you’ll find comfort and support and gain essential insight into how other people handle problems that you may be facing.
Some support groups will also give you access to professionals who can guide you as you work your way out of the stranglehold that gambling has on your life.
Quitting gambling is not a walk in the park, but it isn’t an impossible task. There are several forms of treatment for compulsive gamblers. We’ve listed some of these below.
Psychotherapy has been proven to be an effective remedy for gambling addiction. A series of counseling sessions with a well-trained therapist or psychiatrist can help you with gambling behaviors and habits dragging you down. Therapy could be very effective if gambling addiction results from an underlying psychological problem.
Thanks to advancements in medical research, certain medications can curtail the constant desire to gamble. These medications can reduce a gambler’s urge to visit online betting sites, a casino or take part in other everyday gambling activities. Antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs are some medications that have been quite promising in this regard. You’ll need to consult a medical practitioner to find the right drugs.
Gambling addiction affects many people; unfortunately, there are no effective ways to collate data for gambling addiction. Most of the official stats for people with gambling addiction come from self-reporting by addicted gamblers. This means it is hard to get an obvious picture of how many people suffer from gambling addiction. However, there are some readily available figures, which we’ve listed below.
In all instances, men are more likely to be addicts than females.
Suicide is quite common among compulsive gamblers. If you’re contemplating suicide due to gambling-related problems or know someone who is, you should immediately seek help by calling suicide helplines.
Below are some helplines for suicide prevention in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia:
If you need help with gambling addiction in the United States or New Jersey, many organizations can help. These groups offer various forms of treatment, including counseling, group meetings, and medication.
Below are a few organizations that can make your journey to responsible gambling much easier:
Overcoming your gambling addictions and adopting responsible gambling is not an easy task. However, it is possible with the correct information from organizations like those we have provided above.
Gambling should be an entertaining activity that does not disrupt your life. You owe it to yourself and those you love to get past your addiction and start to gamble responsibly.