Gambling is considered the most severe behavioral addiction. Pathological gambling is considered the most severe form of non-chemical addiction. In most cases, this addiction begins in adolescence and younger adulthood.
Pathological gambling is more common in men than in women. It is noticeable that male gamblers are more often socially isolated than female gamblers. Also, male gamblers more often resort to treatment to solve the problem than female gamblers.
Like addiction to psychoactive substances, gambling addiction has a chronic, recurrent course, with the possibility of spontaneous recovery without formal treatment.
Are You Addicted to Gambling?
Gambling as an addiction badly affects the gambler’s life. Like other addicts, gamblers spend most of their time thinking about gambling, planning it, doing it, and recovering from the consequences. The gambler is not able to stop thinking about gambling, and this preoccupation is obsessive.
Some of the indicators of pathological gambling are:
- Preoccupation with gambling
- Gambling with increasing amounts in order to achieve the same effects
- Failed attempts to stop gambling
- Failure to reduce gambling
- Nervousness and restlessness if trying to reduce gambling
- Gambling as means to escape from problems and bad moods
- Returning to gambling to ‘repay debts’
- Lying, deceiving friends and family
- Recourse to criminal acts
- Destroying relationships (friendly and emotional) because of gambling
- Relying on others to get out of a desperate financial situation
As with other behavioral addictions, craving before engaging in an activity is a common state with gambling, which is very similar to that of addicts of psychoactive substances before using drugs. Craving is different from ordinary desire and the difference is in intensity and quality. In intensity, it is stronger than any instinctive need, while in quality, it is close to the instinctive need. Craving is connected with the imperative “I have to do it immediately, now, at any cost. I will not think about the consequences, I will solve them later.”
Gambling has the same effect on addicts as taking a psychoactive substance by a junky. Practicing the activity leads to a state of euphoria and raising the mood.
The most common types of gambling that are practiced are:
- Sports betting
- Card games
- Slot machines
- Online gambling
Consequences of Gambling Addiction
Gambling, like all other addictions, disturbs the life of an individual and certainly affects the whole family. This activity takes a lot of energy and time, and the addict is less and less in contact with other people. As with the use of psychoactive substances, this type of addiction is fatal for the individual – it also causes financial and marital problems, reduced closeness and trust in the family, leads to neglecting professional and other obligations, and worst of all – leads to engaging in illegal activities.
A large percentage of gamblers have serious problems with alcohol and drugs (up to 60 %), and they often suffer from depression (as many as 75 %). Gambling is also associated with major health problems such as heart problems and liver disease. Addictions such as gambling can also be associated with a risk to an individual’s life. According to one research, 48 % of gamblers had suicidal intentions at some point. The number of suicide attempts and suicides among gamblers is also not negligible.
The serious mental and physical problems that gambling addicts have affect 8-10 other people who are in the immediate vicinity of gamblers. Like alcoholics, pathological gamblers cover up the real cause of health, psychological, and social problems.
How Can Gambling Remain Just a Hobby?
The best online casinos that can be found here have some prevention measures through the education of new players. They post on their websites important content for the education and training of players (strategies, articles…), taking care to convey messages of moderation and warnings against the potential dangers of gambling.
When you have a healthy relationship with gambling, it automatically gives you peace of mind. To make sure everything is in order, be aware of the fact that the game consumes more time and energy than you think. Set limits and enter them in the account settings at online casinos.
Fatigue and loss of money change your lucidity. So, limit your gambling time, no matter how much money you earned, to avoid losing control. Beware of the 24/7 availability of online gaming sites – the possibility to play at all times does not prevent moderation, on the contrary.
Using your credit card for online gambling has become a common practice today but always keep in mind the value of the money you bet with. If you lose, do not try to bet again: take regular breaks and take the time to move to visit another gambling website when you start losing because, while doing so, you might figure out that you are tired and go to rest.