Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatments

Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatments

We love our hobbies from skiing to stamp collecting, camping to cooking, and everything between. Hobbies fill us with a sense of accomplishment and joy. When our hobbies can benefit us, it becomes our own oddsbonus, as many visitors to gambling websites can attest to.

Online casinos and gambling have grown into a worldwide hobby. We enjoy the excitement and thrill of winning. The sounds, lights, and sometimes outrageous payouts fuel the desire to return again and again until our excitement reaches a crescendo. It’s no wonder that online casinos have become so popular.

Yet, for all the excitement and fun, online wagering comes with a dark side. Every day, another of us becomes a statistic. Gambling addictions are insidious and can happen to anyone. 2016 statistics show that the United States has the highest level of compulsive gamblers at 2.6%, and New Zealand has the lowest, less than 0.5%. Even with government regulations in place, Norwegians still have a 0.7 % addiction rate. That’s higher than both the UK and Denmark.

Alexandra Nereng has a degree in philosophy and social sciences from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She has been writing as a trusted expert in online gaming for several years, and she’ll walk us through the path to understand gambling addiction. 

Symptoms

The first step to help is to recognize the problem of gambling. Addictive gambling behavior can manifest in many different ways. Symptoms can include lying about gambling, emotional changes, and the inability to stop. These may coexist with relationship issues, suspicious financial activity, and an increased fixation on gambling.

Physiological and behavioral issues may also exist. We can also see depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and withdrawal from friends and family. Some people also experience impulse control, denial, suicidal thoughts, and anger. 

The inability to stop is usually the first indicator. Gambling addiction, as with other compulsive behaviors, deceives us into believing we need it. The euphoria derived from addiction compels us to seek it. Trying to abstain from gambling, and being unable to do so, indicates that we may need to seek counseling. Once we accept the addiction, we can begin to heal and recover.

Triggers

Gambling and other addictions can be triggered by actions, thoughts, environments, and associations. Do you feel compelled to gamble when you’re:

  • around other people gambling?
  • at or near establishments that encourage or endorse gambling?
  • when stressed, lonely, angry, happy, or bored?
  • drinking, using drugs, or stimulants?

Knowing our triggers can help us to understand our illness and seek appropriate help. While avoidance may work with some, abstinence may work for others. Medication is available to treat the symptoms and side-effects. We may also seek counseling and behavioral therapy. Whatever course of action we take, the end goal should be a healthier, happier life. Freed from the addiction, we can begin to see the world in a more optimistic and less constrained fashion.

Sometimes, the people we associate with can be our biggest triggers. Our friends, family, and co-workers often enable our addictive nature to engage. Seeking gambling addiction help is the first step to recovery. Being aware of the things that trigger us and avoiding those situations is an essential step on our road to recovery.

Treatments

The simplest way to avoid addiction is learning how not to become addicted. Thinking about your wagering, like setting limits and abiding by them, allows us to enjoy gaming. But, once we think we have the symptoms, we must seek treatment as soon as we can to keep us from becoming overwhelmed. Treatments often allow us to find the control and abstinence required for battling our addictions.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is the preferred treatment method. 

This form of therapy is an intensive, short-term approach. Assessments, building alliances during treatment, goal setting, and relapse prevention techniques are vital elements. CBT is a goal-oriented approach providing best practice solutions and coping mechanisms. These practices help clients change their perspective about addiction.

Often the most critical aspect is to seek help immediately. Addictions create harm to your life and lead to severe problems for your well-being.

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