One type of addiction that is plaguing men and women is an addiction to gambling. For many men and women, gambling is something they keep secret from their friends and loved ones. The National Council on Problem Gambling found that more than 2 million adults in the United States are pathological gamblers, with more than 4 to 6 million Americans considered to be problem gamblers. If you’re in this situation, you might need gambling addiction help.
Contributing Factors to Gambling Addictions
Easy Access to Casinos
One problem is the accessibility that Americans have to casinos. Gone are the days when someone would have to travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to gamble. For many states, there are handfuls of both Native American and privately run casinos that can be reached within one hour. Because the casinos are so accessible, men and women are developing addictions to gambling because it is so easy to get there.
Needing a Distraction from Trauma
Sam Skolnik, the author of a book on gambling addiction, told NY Daily News that “women tend to be escape gamblers.” The use of gambling for many women who have become addicted is a means of not facing reality or any troubles that they may have in their life. Skolnik also found that gamblers will often experience the same high that one might get when they are struggling with drugs or alcohol.
Research shows that the same receptors in the brain are affected. For women and men who struggle with gambling addiction, they will often hide their activity from their spouses or loved ones. Detecting a gambling addiction can be difficult if you do not know which signs to look for. Those who suffer from this type of dependency can exhibit signs of exhaustion or fatigue. A loss of sleep can also be a sign that there is an addiction.
This can be attributed to the fact that many gambling addicts will spend long hours in the casino to either accrue winnings or recover from their losses. A person with a gambling addiction can also cause other addictions as well. In efforts to stay awake at the gambling tables, some will turn to drugs to keep them awake. There are others who will develop a concurrent dependency on alcohol because there are many casinos who give out free alcoholic beverages in exchange for casino play.
What’s Wrong With Having a Gambling Addiction?
There are many consequences that come with gambling addiction. Families can experience pain or anger from their loved one’s addiction. Relationships can suffer and oftentimes, gambling addiction will cause financial strife on a family.
How Addiction Can Disrupt the Family Dynamic
There are many things that can disrupt a family dynamic, some of which include financial strain, sexual misconduct, and moral ambiguity. In addition to this is addiction. Addiction is a difficult disorder to overcome, not just for those who are addicted, but for their families and loved ones as well.
It is not easy for loved ones of someone suffering from addiction. Not just because they are loved and cared for, but also because of the other ways that addiction impacts families. With gambling addiction, in particular, financial difficulties are immensely difficult to overcome. In order to fully grasp the picture of how addiction impacts others, it’s better to understand addiction itself.
People often may exclusively associate addiction with alcohol or drugs, but it could be so much more than that; not all addictions are alcohol and drug addictions. In fact, gambling addictions are similar to drug or alcohol addiction. Like any other addiction, gambling alters a person’s behavior to become more dependent on itself.
The more a person gambles, the more likely it is that they’ll return to it. Just like any other high, every high that comes after the first one will never be as strong; not that gambling can get anyone high, but the feeling, the rush of it will never be as strong as the first time. When an addiction begins, someone starts to become more tolerant, thus increasing the need for a more intense experience. This is when abuse comes into play.
To get the same initial high, someone with an addiction needs to gamble more, sometimes with a higher wager. One of the most common reasons that people go back to gambling is to make up for money that they’ve lost over the years. This begins a cycle that is not easily broken. Eventually, resisting becomes next to impossible; the urge to gamble is insatiable.
It’s no secret that any sort of addiction has a massive impact on one’s personal life, regardless of what aspect it infringes upon. However, it is important to remember that just because someone gambles a lot, or loses a lot of money because of it, it doesn’t mean that they’re addicted. In order for an addiction to actually exist, someone has to have a dependency or lack of functionality without it.
As far as the end all be all is concerned, there are individuals who can go on a gambling binge and be okay, but when someone can’t stop, a problem has surfaced. This is when someone becomes addicted. It is very harmful to an individual and those that surround them. What helps, however, is understanding it so that it can be treated well enough to reduce the urges. Understanding what triggers someone’s addiction is always useful when treating it.
What Triggers Someone to Gamble?
When it comes to gambling, there are a plethora of problems it can create, like financial difficulty, obsessive behavior, and a frivolous attitude. Nobody is safe from a potential addiction; it has no regard for an individual’s circumstances or loved ones. It is often difficult to anticipate addictive behavior, but there are circumstances that have the power to trigger addictions. Recognizing these are key to treating the root issue.
The following triggers have the potential to lead to a gambling addiction:
- Bad influences
- Job-related problems
What’s even worse than all of this is that one addiction could actually lead to another, potentially more serious addiction. Some individuals are influenced in a completely different way, as in genetic or neurological disorders.
How to Know if Someone Needs Gambling Addiction Help
Some signs and symptoms of addiction include the following:
- Obsessive behavior
- Secretive behavior
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal
- Overall dysfunction
- Manipulative behavior
- Guilt or remorse
Gambling has intense financial consequences; regardless of whether or not someone is good or bad at it, there’s always a risk. Overall, however, gambling is not a financial issue. It may seem like that at the surface, but it’s not the truth. There is an emotional component to those who gamble. Looking at the financial consequences is just acknowledging the symptoms rather than the cause of it all.
Sometimes there are more serious signs of an addiction. Someone may forget important dates, neglect to come to a significant family event, or their professional performance may be suffering. When this becomes apparent, it may be time to consider treatment.
How Common are Gambling Addictions?
There have been many studies conducted to determine how common gambling is in the United States. These studies show that 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from a gambling addiction. Twenty million individuals in the U.S. who gamble say that it interferes with their professional and personal lives.
The reason these numbers are so large is due in large part to the fact that technology has made it possible for people to gamble more frequently and maintain access to gambling. This is all possible through online gambling services.
As far as the government’s involvement in all of this, the U.S. has left it to the states to enforce whatever regulations they deem necessary. Sometimes gambling can be illegal where a person lives. However, because of their addiction, they put themselves at more of a risk of arrest. Gambling is legal in other places, though, and adopted as part of the area’s culture (namely Las Vegas, Nevada).
Find Help for Gambling Addictions at New Directions
At New Directions for Women, treatment for gambling addiction could mean the following:
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Medically Assisted Treatment
Contact New Directions for Women Today
If you suspect a family member may have a gambling addiction, there is help available. You can contact the National Problem Gambling Hotline at 1800-522-4700 or by looking for a local gamblers anonymous group at https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.
New Directions for Women is a treatment facility located in California. We offer help to women, pregnant women, women with children, and families who are plagued with addiction.
If you suspect that someone you know and love is suffering from chemical dependency, New Directions for Women is here to help. We understand that reaching out for help can be a difficult process. Our recovery process begins with love.
Let New Directions for Women wrap their arms around you or your loved one. Our caring admissions counselors are available 24/7 to take your call and answer any questions you may have on getting help. Reach us by phone at 800-93-WOMEN, or you can contact us through our website. We can help. Stay in the loop with New Directions for Women by connecting with us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.