Gambling is one of many activities which is highly addictive. Both the accessibility and the pleasure that it offers makes it a significant habit, causing compulsive and irrational behaviours.
Whilst gambling can be a controlled and enjoyed activity for some individuals, for others, it can influence self-destruction. Mental health issues, financial problems, legal worries, substance abuse and severe behavioural changes are all forms of destruction, caused by gambling.
In the moment, the thrill of a bet can be engulfing, causing the reward system to go into overdrive. Yet once the moment passes, a mixture of regret, depression, lows, and anti-climax can all influence the ongoing urge to gamble, once again.
The gambling process is highly addictive, which if experienced consistently, can turn into a taught habit. Here are the signs of a gambling addiction to look out for, if you or someone you care about invests their time, money and focus into gambling.
It’s a severe behavioural addiction that can develop into such a vicious cycle. Take gambling seriously, through responsible and appropriate use. We at Rehab Clinics Group are here to offer guidance, support, and treatment to alleviate the symptoms of gambling addiction.
Causes of Gambling Addiction
Most gambling addictions are caused by the feelings that gambling itself offers. Stress, pressure, and worry are all triggers which can be masked, forgotten about, and diminished through the highs of gambling. For example, financial hardship is key stress which can trigger compulsive gambling. With the idea that financial gain and reward can be encountered, gambling will become an ongoing activity, prioritised, and placed on a pedestal.
There are also other causes that can trigger behavioural addictions, including mental health problems, influential relationships and environments, previous trauma, taught behaviour, genetics, and norms. Yet in most cases, the reward system is activated and impacted by gambling activity, turning it into a longed-for experience.
A gambling addiction can quickly develop, due to the intensity of the activity. As such activity is also available and accessible both in-person and online, hiding a habit or justifying choices can be easier.
Compulsive gambling turns into a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s like a drug to the brain, by creating extreme highs, yet withdrawal and anti-climax follow, making it a difficult feeling to digest. In many cases, those feelings will again be masked through gambling activity, causing the addiction process.
Short and long-term signs of a Gambling Addiction
Depending on the length and severity of a gambling addiction, signs and symptoms will vary. They can be categorised into short and long-term signs. Being aware of each is recommended, as a new and controlled behaviour can soon turn into a taught habit.
Short-term Signs and Symptoms
- Feeling the initial urge to gamble
- Experiencing a level of withdrawal from everyday life
- Starting to associate gambling activity with positive feelings
- Signs of personal negligence due to a new focus
- Possible mental health issues, due to an imbalance of chemicals and emotions
- Hiding initial activity
- Quickly developing a routine around gambling activity
If a gambling addiction is enabled, long-term impacts can be expected, displayed through the below signs and symptoms.
Long-term Signs and Symptoms
- Feeling the constant urge to gamble
- Experiencing social isolation and withdrawal from everyday life
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms in between activity
- Chasing the next bet to experience the highs of gambling
- Gambling compulsively to block out any negativity
- The negligence of oneself and others
- Poor mental health, such as depression, panic, anxiety, and paranoia
- Feeling a loss of control
- Hiding and lying, along with justifying behaviours
- Prioritising life around gambling activity
- Gambling high amounts of money or personal assets
- Continuing even when consequences arise
- Using a number of different gambling outlets
- Relationship problems, problems at work, financial issues, legal worries, and possible substance abuse, all indicating a change in behaviour
- Physical health problems through long-term addiction
Diagnosing Compulsive Gambling
Gambling addiction is viewed as an invisible illness, as it is a behavioural condition, rather than a medical one. Signs of a gambling addiction mainly surround a change in personality, choices, emotions, and responsibilities. Due to this, it can be difficult to initially spot a gambling addiction, as activity is accessible, legal, and normalised.
Yet, over time, the signs of compulsive gambling will surface, where symptoms will be noticeable and impactful.
A diagnosis will be best completed through a professional means. Behavioural addictions can be very complicated and can cross over a number of co-occurring disorders. As addiction is closely linked to mental health issues, a professional diagnosis will offer the most accurate insight.
Through our services here at Rehab Clinics Group, we can help you with a diagnosis, along with recommending the most suitable next steps. Treatment and rehab will be recommended, to treat and reduce the impacts of gambling addiction.
Treating Behavioural Addictions
Gambling rehab will be a safe and proactive way to treat behavioural addictions. A withdrawal process will need to be worked through, by shutting off all exposure and accessibility. Withdrawal symptoms will be expected, just like a drug withdrawal process. The brain will need to adapt to the lack of reward, felt through gambling activity.
Therapy and a range of addiction treatment services will also be effective, to offer insight and understanding of compulsive gambling. Any mental health issues can be worked through, emotions can be digested, and coping strategies can be formed.
Understanding why a behaviour forms and takes priority is very important, along with reverting the control of such behaviours. Treatment will help to do just that, to reduce the urge to gamble.
A wide range of support is available at Rehab Clinics Group, through our rehab centres. By reaching out, we can run through the signs of a gambling addiction, along with assessing your symptoms. From here, a referral can be made to help you access the help you require and deserve to overcome your gambling habits.