Remember how thrilling it felt to win your last big wager?
Gambling acts in the same way drugs and alcohol do, stimulating the brain’s reward system. For certain people, this can turn into an irresistible feeling.
A gambling issue for one person doesn’t necessarily look the same for another. Because of this, you might’ve heard it referred to as different things:
- Gambling addiction
- Problem gambling
- Compulsive gambling
Fortunately, there are some common tell-tale symptoms that many people share. Here are five of the most prominent signs that you or someone you know may have an issue gambling responsibly.
1) Preoccupation with gambling
We all get excited about a fun new hobby — especially if that hobby is making us money. But for some, hobbies can quickly turn into obsessions. One bet turns into 10 bets. And before you know it, you’re having trouble thinking about much else.
If you went a little overboard with your big March Madness wager, that doesn’t mean you have a gambling addiction. It’s when the off-season rolls around and you find yourself betting on anything and everything to get your fix that a red flag should go up.
Spending your time fixating on odds or replaying previous losses on repeat in your head could be a sign of gambling addiction.
This can be true whether you think you may have a problem or not. Denial is a common symptom of any type of addictive behavior, which can make it difficult to recognize your problem in the first place. If family members, friends or coworkers have commented on your gambling habits, it might be time to take them seriously.
2) Consistently gambling despite consequences
When gambling becomes your primary focus, other aspects of your life naturally take the backseat.
Your family and career become less of a priority. You resort to spending your hard-earned money on gambling rather than on necessities. Furthermore, you might start lying about your gambling behavior, resulting in fractured relationships with loved ones.
You may even begin relying on someone else to support you monetarily because you’ve exhausted your resources on gambling. When this stops working, you might resort to theft or forgery to continue funding the habit.
3) Chasing your losses
Casual gamblers know how to set personal limits and to stop when they’re losing. This can be done by setting restrictions on the number of bets, time or money spent gambling.
The key, however, is being able to know when enough is enough.
The compulsive problems begin when players are compelled to continue wagering in the hopes of recovering those losses. This type of cycle can become more and more detrimental with time.
Chasing lost bets can turn into a downward spiral. And even if you finally turn a profit on those lost wagers, you might quickly find yourself jonesing for another wager.
Then suddenly, your past bets won’t be enough anymore. You might find yourself needing to up the ante on future bets to achieve the same thrill you did before.
4) Repeated efforts to cut back or stop
Ask almost any addict, and they’ll tell you the hardest part of overcoming an addiction is cutting out the habit. No matter how hard you may wish or try, quitting isn’t as easy as simply stopping.
And oftentimes, it’s even more difficult to cut back or limit that behavior. To a gambling addict, there’s no such thing as “just one bet”.
If you’ve had trouble cutting back on your wagering because of an overwhelming urge to gamble, this is a sure sign of a problem.
5) Withdrawal symptoms
If you do manage to limit your wagering activity, you might find yourself experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
Much like an alcoholic, gambling addicts can experience physical and emotional side effects from attempting to limit their wagering activity.
Remission can sometimes occur. This is when players reign in their gambling for a certain length of time. For those that don’t take additional steps, however, remission is rarely long-term.
Gambling addiction prevention
There’s no fail-safe way to prevent a gambling problem besides abstaining from the hobby altogether. There are, however, a handful of educational programs and prevention initiatives in place to assist players.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it might be time to seek professional guidance before the issue gets out of control.
Call the Tennessee Redline at 1-800-889-9789 for 24/7 access to personalized problem gambling resources.