Recognizing the Signs of Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a risky activity involving the wagering of something of value for a chance at winning a prize. This activity can be an addictive behavior, which is why it is important to recognize the signs of gambling addiction. If you suspect that you have a gambling addiction, treatment is available to help you overcome your problem and live a healthier life.

People who are at a higher risk for developing gambling disorder are those who have a family history of substance abuse, a mental health condition like depression or bipolar, or a behavioral addiction such as eating disorders or gambling. It is also more common among young adults and men, and can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle factors, such as being under financial strain or having a low self-esteem.

The negative effects of gambling can be seen on a personal, interpersonal, and societal level. On a personal level, gambling may cause an increase in debt, loss of control, or feelings of sadness and depression. On an interpersonal level, it can cause arguments and tension with friends and family. At a community/society level, it can cause economic impact such as increased spending in casinos and tourism.

Various studies have investigated the economic impact of gambling, but most focus only on economic benefits and ignore costs. This is due to the fact that many of the costs associated with gambling are intangible and difficult to measure, resulting in them being overlooked. A better approach is to consider both intangible and tangible impacts, as described by Williams et al.

Intangible impacts are those that cannot be directly measured or quantified in dollar terms, and include things such as environmental impact, social costs, and indirect costs. For example, construction of a casino might destroy a wetland habitat. This is an environmental cost that can be hard to quantify, but would need to be paid for in some way in order to offset the negative impact of the casino.

Social costs are those that affect the gambler’s relationships with others and are not a direct result of gambling activity. These can include feelings of shame and guilt, lack of trust, and a sense of betrayal. They can also include emotional distance and a feeling of being excluded. In some cases, friends and family of a gambler who has a gambling addiction may feel they have been taken advantage of by the addict and can become angry and resentful. This can lead to a cycle of betrayal and guilt, which further fuels the desire to gamble. Treatment for gambling addiction includes counseling and therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral and support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. In some cases, inpatient or residential treatment is necessary. These programs can provide the time and structure needed to re-establish healthy relationships, develop a positive self-image, and learn how to control impulses and finances.