Sensible gambling activity is recommended across apps, betting platforms and shops.
Yet with grave accessibility, strong social acceptance and a wealth of gambling channels, exposure can be difficult to control for some.
A gambling addiction can develop for a number of different reasons. Stress, poor mental health, money problems, unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol, and social pressures are all common causes.
Paired with unlimited, virtual accessibility, and the positive feelings and reinforcements that gambling carries, the recognised pastime has an addictive nature.
Gambling problems will not be experienced by every person who bets or partakes in gambling activity. Yet with such a fine line between normalised and compulsive exposure, greater awareness is required.
Here’s some signs and symptoms of gambling addiction to remember, look out for and act upon in their presence. Whilst it can be difficult to see beyond the positives of gambling, there are many negatives, including addiction. If you’re struggling, or feel concerned about a loved one, reach out here at Action Rehab.
The average person can place a bet today and likely forget about it tomorrow. Gambling is a pastime, a social activity, and a hobby for some. It’s however a highly addictive activity, due to the financial reward and the positive feelings that it influences, similar to drug abuse.
For someone who’s addicted to gambling, tomorrow will include even further activity, urges and compulsive thoughts around betting; all subconscious responses.
Compulsive gambling is uncontrollable, where the action overrides the decision-making process. Due to the habitual behaviours which form through addiction, the brain’s natural response will be to think about, consider and partake in gambling activity.
Diagnosed as an impulse-control disorder, once a gambling addiction develops, it can be difficult to break the cycle due to embedded impulses. No matter how bleak, no matter how many losses and no matter the consequences, cravings, positive reinforcements, and decisions will motivate further activity.
Here’s the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, along with common causes, showcasing its serious and complicated makeup as a condition.
Causes of Addiction
Various triggers can cause gambling addiction. Risk factors include stress, intoxication, money worries, influential environments, high acceptance, and poor mental health. Similar to further addictive behaviours, gambling problems can also amount from genetics, increased susceptibility, and social motivations.
Nowadays, social media, ideologies, pressures of success, the glamourisation of financial freedom and the virtual availability of betting platforms all increase the risks of gambling addiction. Paired with an existing vulnerability or negative feeling, the positives of gambling can motivate further exposure.
Gambling reflects a rollercoaster, where highs can be extremely exhilarating, yet where lows can be damaging and mentally exhausting. This experience can also trigger further exposure, to aim for the high, positive reinforcements. Once the brain has learnt that this is possible, it will continue to control physical actions, resulting in consumption.
There are great complications behind compulsive gambling and the role that it can play in someone’s life. With great consequences, a gambling addiction can be life-limiting, causing short and long-term effects. To reduce exposure and overcome an addiction, vast changes will be required, along with full completion of addiction treatment via gambling rehab.
What are the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction?
The most common signs and symptoms of gambling addiction surround behavioural and emotional changes. Yet there are also physical and social symptoms to look out for, showing how complex and severe the condition can be.
- Poor hygiene and a lack of interest in appearance due to being preoccupied with gambling
- Weight problems, due to binge eating or a lack of eating
- Ill-health, usually due to poor diet, high-stress levels and prioritising the funding of gambling activity
- High blood pressure
- Common physical symptoms of anxiety, chronic stress, and depression, including insomnia, irritability, and high drug/alcohol consumption
- Poor mental health usually found to influence a dual diagnosis
- Unstable and negative thoughts
- Poor decision making
- Irrational decisions
- Problems with concentration
- A lack of empathy and perspective
- Over emotional and extremely turbulent
- Using negative coping strategies to overcome emotional symptoms of gambling addiction
- Changes to social groups
- Isolated behaviours
- A lack of enjoyment out of hobbies
- Negative impacts on relationships
- Heavy exposure to gambling fuelled activities
- Prioritising gambling over family, responsibilities, and work
- Financial and legal problems linked to financial losses
- Finding it difficult to stop gambling
- Changes to attitudes, motivations, outlooks, and personality
- High aggression levels and extremely vulnerable
- Ongoing gambling activity even through high-risk consequences
- Hiding money from others
- Hiding gambling interests
- Loss of control over the activity
Signs and symptoms may not be clear through initial gambling abuse. Yet as gambling takes over, emotional, and behavioural symptoms will be on display, followed by physical and social. In the event of any changes, professional support and treatment should be considered for gambling addiction.
Treating gambling problems
Through gambling rehab, various levels of addiction can be treated. Most people will need to complete a gambling detox, to remove all exposure and influences. Just like the drug withdrawal process, gambling will need to be eliminated from the environment, to reduce internal urges.
From here, therapy sessions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy and exposure therapy are highly effective. Helping to understand the emotions behind gambling, and how to digest and replace them will be very important.
Gambling treatments can help to cut off all desires to gamble in the future. Yet it’s essential to have a relapse prevention plan and coping strategies in place. An addiction can relapse, especially when considering the exposure and accessibility of gambling platforms. Whilst you can ban yourself off-sites or set limits, there are ways to gamble in the midst of desperation.
Full treatment along with aftercare support and direction will be available through gambling rehab, which we can help you with at Action Rehab. Reach out if you’re experiencing any signs and symptoms of gambling addiction or believe that someone close to you may be. We’re here to offer guidance, support, and a referral into rehab, to tackle compulsive gambling.