Responsible Gambling & Gambling Addiction

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Gambling isn’t something new; it is an exciting and fun activity that has been around for thousands of years. The fun it offers is enticing, but perhaps the most significant enticement is the prospect of winning money from it.

Gamblers can wager money on different possible outcomes with expectations of winning some extra cash. This possibility of winning big cash has pushed people to see gambling as more than just a game of excitement and thrills. The hope of winning big is what keeps many gamblers hooked to the dice and cards on casino tables. With continued participation, some people are outrightly unable to stop. They indulge nonstop, throwing in a lot of money in the process.

In such a situation, gambling, which should be a harmless way to relax and have fun, morphs into a dangerous obsession. This is where learning responsible gambling comes in. But first, what is a gambling addiction? Let is find out below.

What exactly is a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction, also called Ludomania, is an impulse control disorder. It makes a person unable to stop gambling even when it is negatively affecting them 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. Often, gambling starts as an entertaining way to spend one’s time until it gradually eats into time to perform other daily activities. Against popular belief, being a gambling addict doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve completely lost the ability to control your gambling impulse. No, to some extent, some addicted gamblers still retain control over when and when not to indulge in gambling.

Nonetheless, it is still a gambling addition if the time you spend on gambling-related activities seriously disrupts your typical day to day activities.

Types of Gambling Addiction

There are many forms of gambling addictions including:

Symptoms and Signs of Gambling Addiction

The physical symptoms or signs of gambling addiction is usually not as pronounced as alcohol or drug addiction. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Because it isn’t pronounced, much attention isn’t given to it. Thus, addicted gamblers can keep gambling till they start experiencing severe financial problems or even till they lose their jobs. While gambling addiction signs may be easily visible in compulsive gamblers, they are quite subtle in binge and problem gamblers.

However, there are some symptoms or signs that’s indicative of a possible gambling addiction problem. 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 with a period of 12 months to be adjudged a gambling addict. The standard gambling symptoms to check against include;

While these symptoms could very much likely point to a gambling addiction, it shouldn’t on any account replace qualified medical advice.

If you find yourself experiencing at least four of the listed symptoms, then you should meet a qualified medical practitioner for assistance. To be specific, the kind of medical practitioner to meet should be mental health professionals such as psychiatrists.

A psychiatrist will be better suited to determine whether you have gambling addiction or only exhibit symptoms of another mental health condition. Many people with gambling addiction usually suffer other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, ADHD, and depressive disorder.

Causes of Gambling Addiction

The exact causes of gambling addiction are still shrouded in mystery. However, there are a handful of factors that could potentially contribute to gambling addiction. These factors include mental health problems, huge first wins, and profound desperation for money.

Recognizing Gambling Addiction

Because gambling addictions can be subtle at times, many people don’t usually notice the problem until it has eaten deep into their lives. Most individuals only see they have a gambling problem when they’ve incurred huge debts, lost their jobs, or become pushed into criminal activities to source funds for gambling. This usually results in problems with the law. 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 the fact that you’re potentially dealing with a gambling addiction problem. One of the issues with people that have gambling problems is living in 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.

Top Six Advice for Responsible Gambling

Many people who understand that they have a problem don’t know how to engage in responsible gambling. The following are a few tips that can help with that.

  1. Set and Stick to A Budget: The key to avoid being dragged more in-depth into the gambling rabbit hole is setting and sticking to a gambling budget. Whenever you want to gamble, make sure you’ve already taken out the amount you want to gamble and bring only that amount with you to the gambling table and nothing more. Once you bring a realistic amount to the table and run out of it, you’ll be left with only one option — quit!
  2. Check Your Mood Before Gambling: Responsible gambling is ideally done to relax and have a good time. Your head should be clear and devoid of anger or any form of agitation. Also, gambling after taking alcohol or drugs is very unadvisable; many things could go wrong.
  3. Prepare for Losses: While you certainly don’t want to lose your money while gambling, you should always remember that somehow, the house always wins. This means while you head to the casino to have some fun, prepare for losses, and don’t get overly invested in the game.
  4. Limit the Time You Spend Gambling: Another great way to keep your gambling impulses in check is to set and stick to a gambling time limit. Just the same way you stick to your budget, stick to your time. Even if your budget isn’t exhausted, stop playing. When gambling, time can seem to move much faster. To avoid spending productive time on nothing but gambling, set a strict time limit. An alarm on your phone or wristwatch could come quite handy.
  5. Take Periodic Breaks: It is easy for gamblers who frequently indulge to feel sucked in and unable to break free. A great way to fix this is to take periodic breaks from gambling. If you gamble online, you can block access to gambling sites on your devices for some time. If your residence is very close to a casino, you can relocate to some casino-free neighborhood for some time. Pause from time to time, if need be, reflect on your gambling activities, and bounce back in good spirit.
  6. Seek Help: If you are concerned about your gambling behavior or that of a loved one at any point in time, you can seek counseling from the customer service units of some licensed casinos. It is also possible to rake some tests online to get a clear glimpse of your gambling health.

Some Self-help Strategies for Gambling Addiction

The first step to deal with your gambling problem is recognizing and accepting that you have a problem. It is only after this that you can genuinely make conscious efforts towards fixing it. Luckily, there are several self-help strategies you can employ to combat gambling addiction. Some of such techniques include:

Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Altogether quitting gambling is not a walk in the park. It’s quite challenging. However, it is not an impossible task—there several forms of remedy available for the problem and compulsive gamblers. Unfortunately, there’s no officially recommended treatment for gambling addiction. Nonetheless, the methods listed below can come quite handy:

Therapy

Psychotherapy has over the years proven to be quite an effective remedy for gambling addiction. Series of counseling sessions with a well-trained therapist or psychiatrist can help put a lid on gambling behaviors and habits that are dragging you down. Therapy could be exceptionally very effective if gambling addiction is a result of an underlying psychological problem.

Medication

Thanks to advancement in medical research, there are certain medications that can now be used to curtail the constant desire to gamble. These medications have been proven to effectively 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. However, don’t take medicines with recommendations from a qualified medical practitioner.

Prevalence of Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction affects many people; unfortunately, there are no effective ways to collate data for gambling addiction. Most of the official stats of people with gambling addiction are collated by 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’s still a rough picture of how things are.
Check out the following stats:

In all the instances, men took the highest stake. This means males are much more likely to have a gambling problem or become addicted to gambling than females.

Stopping Suicide in People with Gambling Addiction

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 for US, Canada, UK, and Australia:

Helpful Resources for Gambling Addictions and Responsible Gambling

If you need help for gambling addiction in the United States, New Jersey, there are many organizations available to help. They offer various forms of treatments including counselling, group meetings and medications.

Below are a few options 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 right information like those we have provided above and a good level of commitment.

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.

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Last updated: December 4, 2020