A trip to the casino, be it in Las Vegas, Atlantic City or online, is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable experience. For many the sights, sounds and overall atmosphere affords them a unique opportunity to just get a way from it all. For others, wagering on sports, blackjack or roulette is an action that latches on and becomes difficult to differentiate recreation from obsession. It’s not uncommon for gambling addiction to spiral out of control before the player knows he or she has a problem. This page is here to educate you on the types of gambling addictions, symptoms to look out for and how best to treat those you believe may have a problem.
In short, gambling addiction is an uncontrollable urge to continue wagering on various casino games or events no matter how much it hurts oneself or impacts those around them. This could lead to loss of emotional support from loved ones, depleted financial health and, depending how long the addiction lasts, negatively effect ones mental and physical health.
There are three primary types of gambling addiction.
Much like those who experience bouts of binge eating or drinking (alcohol), binge gambling is when somebody gambles a lot of money over a short period of time. Binge gamblers may appear to have their addiction under control at certain times, but the urge to bet overtakes their good judgement over a small window of time and they make excessive wagers which sometimes pays off and sometimes doesn’t.
Problem gambling is a more continual form of addiction where the person doesn’t tend to take time off. Problem gamblers can be unaware of their addiction, and hurt those around them or they could be aware of their addiction, but be unable to control it, put their health at risk and alienate their loved ones. Addiction in any form always leads to harm.
The Mayo Clinic refers to compulsive gambling, also known as gambling disorder, as an uncontrollable urge to bet no matter the financial, emotional, mental and physical toll it takes on oneself or family. Compulsive gamblers often have a tough time admitting they have a problem, which places the burden on those close to him or her to diagnose, call attention to and intervene, which can lead to uncomfortable discussions.
It is always recommended to seek help when you or a family members suffers from any form of gambling addiction whether it’s online gambling or in a physical casino, poker room or sportsbook.
Not all gambling addiction cases are created equal, specific symptoms vary from person to person. However, experts at the Addiction Center and Mayo Clinic list these as the most common signs of a gambling addiction:
While treatment for gambling addiction varies by case, most medial professionals believe the first step towards recovery is a gambler admitting they indeed have a problem. From there, behavior and cognitive behavioral therapy sessions with a psychologist is typically the next step. If needed, a doctor may prescribe medication to aid in recovery and mitigate related health issues such as depression.
It’s also common for those with gambling addiction to join support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous or ones recommended by their health care provider. By surrounding themselves with others fighting the same fight and/or those who are on the road to recovery, professionals believe this has a positive net benefit.
A good place to start one’s recovery is by calling a support hotline like National Problem Gambling Helpline via phone or text at 1-800-522-4700 or 1-800-GAMBLER. Both are 100% confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Additionally, most online casinos offer addiction resources to help their customers out in time of need:
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