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Over 6 million people in the U.S. alone are thought to be ‘problem gamblers’, meaning that they are unable to maintain a healthy relationship with this pastime and can suffer negative consequences of exposure to games of chance.
With the help of a practical guide to beating gambling addiction, it is possible for people who fall into this group to overcome their issues and move on with their lives. Of course recognizing that you have a problem in the first place can be tough, so here are 3 symptoms to look out for which could indicate that you or a loved one need assistance.
Overlooking outside responsibilities
Arguably the single biggest sign that you are a problem gambler is if you find that your mind is always occupied by the act of gambling itself, to the extent that you shirk your responsibilities in other areas of your life, whether professional or personal.
Studies have suggested that each gambling addict costs society almost $10,000 annually, and of course the symptom of being entirely caught up in the outcome of the wagers you place and the desire to keep gambling at any cost will lead to the deterioration of other aspects of your existence. This all stems from a lack of impulse control, which in itself can be indicative of deeper psychological issues at play, and makes seeking help all the more important.
If you feel that you need to withhold the truth about your gambling activities from friends and family, then this is a clear indication that not only is it becoming a problem, but that you are also well aware of the complications that it is creating.
Of course if you come from a community where gambling is frowned upon in any form, then you may be keeping quiet about dabbling in it for this reason, without necessarily having any serious issues or unhealthy impulses. Even so, being aware of how you are behaving, how this is impacting others and how you are choosing to portray yourself in the eyes of those who mean the most to you will allow you to assess whether your mistruths are a symptom of a disorder that needs to be dealt with.
Overstretching yourself financially
As with a number of other types of compulsive behaviors, gambling addiction is frequently connected with financial troubles directly stimulated by overspending on activities that are not realistically within your reach.
More than just spending too much on different types of gambling, addicts will also seek to make up for losses by throwing more money into wagers in the hope of striking it lucky. This can lead to a serious downward spiral that will often be the point at which the aforementioned secrecy starts to crumble.
Of course there are individuals who have the means to sustain a gambling addiction for longer because their finances allow it. This can propagate the idea that they are not addicted, but rather they are simply happy to spend money on a pastime they enjoy. Eventually the severity of this problem can become too much for those with the deepest pockets, so it is important to be honest with yourself about how it is affecting your life, regardless of your financial situation.
Ultimately it is clear that the symptoms of a gambling addiction are interlinked and will perpetuate one another. If you are avoiding the responsibilities of your everyday life to gamble, you will also likely lie about why you were not able to fulfill the duties that others expected of you. Then as your personal and professional reputation begins to suffer, your ability to manage your money or even muster the ability to care about it will come under pressure.
If these symptoms are ones you can recognize either in yourself or in someone who is close to you, it is never too late to make a positive change and seek professional assistance. There are lots of options available, including residential rehabilitation, therapy sessions and group support meetings. It is also worth remembering that the help of the people around you in your life can be vital to the recovery process.
As hinted at earlier, gambling addiction can lead to other complications such as depression and anxiety, as well as physiological side effects such as tiredness and weight fluctuations. Be vigilant for all of these symptoms and speak out if you or someone you love is veering down this path.