Gambling addiction is not as well known, but just as dangerous as drug and alcohol addiction, throwing addicts and their loved ones into an out of control spiral of compulsive and addictive behavior leaving behind devastation and despair. Read here about gambling addiction, its signs and the help available to treat this horrible disease. Gambling addiction is a compulsive disorder that has had devastating consequences on individuals, their families, and society at large. For most, gambling is a recreational activity, whether it’s a trip to Vegas for the weekend, lottery tickets, a gambling pool at work during the Final Four or playoff games, or poker night every once in while. Often, the dangers of gambling are not present as the majority of recreational gamblers don’t find their lives spiraling out of control as a result of their activities. However, for the 4-6% of recreational gamblers who do lose control of their impulses, the addiction has proved to have tremendous consequences negatively affecting their lives. Gambling addiction, like sexual addiction is a progressive disease and it creeps up on individuals – most don’t see it coming until it has already done a great deal of damage and this pattern holds true for most addictions, which is why addiction is considered to be so insidious.
There are three phases to the progression of gambling addiction.
Phase One of Gambling Addiction
The first phase is referred to as the winning phase. Here, addicts experience a big win or a series of winning bets and good fortune, feeling the excitement and satisfaction of having increased their holdings almost instantaneously. This gives the addict unreasonable optimism that they will continue to win in the future. So they go back to try their luck again, having an unmitigated expectation of continued winnings.. It is hard to recognize a problem in this phase since it seems like everything is good. There’s more money, everyone is happy and feeling good, so the subtle signs of a problem brewing are easily overlooked. It is during this phase that a gambling addiction begins to infiltrate the brain and cause cravings for more excitement and more wins. Many people may be inclined to experience this feeling when they’ve had a big win or a series of wins and feel lucky. Many people may want to ride that wve of luck and get as many wins as possible while while they’re lucky. Once the lucky streak ends however, many people will be able to acvept the loss and quit before real financial damage has been done.
Phase Two of Gambling Addiction
The next step is the losing phase. During this phase, the addict thinks and brags about his past winnings, trying to hold on and relive the glory days, although sustaining a series of loses at the time. Despite the loss, gambling addicts will continue to hold on to the faith that they are in fact able to turn their luck around. Although senseless to the majority of people, this is the nature of addiction to convince the addict that it’s not as bad as it really is. In gambling addiction, the addict will continue to gamble, thinking things will change and the more time that passes without a change of luck, the optimism turns to desparity. Addicts will often gamble alone, isolating themselves from friends and family, grow increasingly irritated and withdrawn. During this stage, the addict feels a sense of disbelief that loss has come to them and they grow more and more desperate to get their win back, despite having lost most or all of their money to their unsuccessful efforts. The losing phase is where the addict will begin to borrow money from friends, loan sharks, and banks, and even steal money from family members and loved ones. In borrowing money, the addict only becomes more desparate, knowing that a win will have to be big enough to repay the loan and to sustain themselves. Because of the desparity felt to continue gambling, addicts will engage in dangerous loans from loan sharks, putting thier safety and the safety of their loved ones in danger for a failure to repay the loan. Addicts will steal money, embezzle funds from work, and sell personal items for the means to continue gambling – some of the same things done in desparity by drug addicts and alcoholics.
Phase Three of Gambling Addiction
The final phase of gambling addiction is the desperation phase where the addict will spend most all of their time gambling, alienate themselves from friends and family. The addict will place blame of loss on others, completely desperate for their money back and the next big win, which is coming any time now, according to the addict. Often in this phase of the progression of gambling addiction, the addict will go to a casino and blame the dealer for not shuffling sufficiently, cheating, and stacking the deck against him. Obviously, these things are never the case, but in this completely desperate phase of gambling addiction, losses become the fault of everyone other than the addict. Often when the big win never comes, the addict will experience feelings of remorse, shame, and guilt. When these kinds of emotions come to the addict, substance abuse is likely. After yet another loss, gambling addicts may head to the bar and walow in their depression over the failure to get their money back. Gambling addiction causes depression and very dangerous emotions that often lead to the abuse of alcohol and drugs, only further complicating the lives of the addict and family members. Another common result of severe gambling addiction is suicide. When losses have become so vast and loans have become unmanageable, gambling addicts don’t see another way out and when complicated by substance abuse, suicide becomes more likely, leaving the family and loved ones of the addict heartbroken and devastated. Gambling addiction is a disease that plagues millions of families worldwide. It is so easy to fall in love with the rush and excitement of a big win, or series of wins while gambling. This excitement of gambling can be compared to the high one experiences when using drugs or intoxicated by alcohol and it can be just as addictive and it can very quickly lead to an out of control addiction, making the lives of the addict and his/her family and loved ones completely miserable and unmanageable.
Finding Help for Gambling Addiction
While gambling addiction continue to ruin millions of lives, there is help available for this horrible disease. Even though most drug rehab centers do accommodate gambling addiction treatment, there are treatment centers that focus strickly on this addiction. In these kinds of rehabs, the message is essentially the same as it is in drug rehab, teaching that gabling addiction is a disease and that there is treatment for it. If the rehab operates from the 12-step perspective, the message is just as strong as it is when applied to drugs and alcohol, admitting powerlessness over the addiction and empowerment to make ammends to those who have been harmed or wronged as a result of the addiction. The biggest difference between gambling addiction rehab and drug rehab is the detox phase. Unless gambling addiction has brough on substance abuse as well, gambling addiction alone does not require any period of detox before entering treatment since detox is the physical removal of toxins from substance abuse. In gambling addiction rehab, addicts will learn how to control impulses and obtain tools to abstain from gambling and other compulsive activities that may trigger similar destructive behavior resulting from addiction.
* For more information on addiction and addiction treatment, please explore the rest of our links and if you have questions about your own addiction or that of someone close to you, please fill out our free confidential assessment so we may get back to you and discuss what’s going on and what some viable options may be for finding the right help for the probem. If there is anything we can do to help you, please contact us or call us. We are here to help