Gambling addiction is a serious but often overlooked condition since it’s an addictive behavior and not a substance that disrupts a person’s life. Pathological gambling turns what should be a fun activity into something potentially life-destroying, where you put money on the line that you and your loved ones cannot afford to lose.
The first step to fighting an addiction is to acknowledge and accept that you have a problem. Below we’ve gathered eight common signs that you may have a gambling addiction. If you identify with many or all of the following behaviors, you should distance yourself from risk-seeking activities like online casinos or sports betting.
If you’ve found yourself here and you don’t exhibit the behaviors of a gambling addict, it is possible to make money in an online casino. Note that success in gambling relies on chance, informed betting, and knowing when to stop when the odds are against you.
This is a staple of many addictions. If you lie about your gambling behaviors, you are showing guilt. Whether you realize it yet or not, you are lying about your compulsive gambling because you know it’s a negative behavior deep down, and you are worried about the judgment of those who are around you. This lying can even be so powerful that you lie to yourself, something called cognitive dissonance, where you behave against your values and your better judgment.
2. Gambling More Than You Can Lose
Gambling becomes a problem when you put money on the line that you can’t afford to lose. If you can’t control how much you gamble, to the point where it’s adversely impacting your life, then you likely have a gambling addiction. This is especially the case if you’ve gotten into debt or you’re putting up assets, like your car or even your home, to keep up with your gambling behaviors. With these issues come heaps of stress, potential job loss, and maybe even prison time if you get desperate for cash and resort to illegal activities.
3. It Feels Bad
Our intuition is often ignored, especially when we try to deceive ourselves, but if something feels bad then it probably is. If you feel negative emotions during or after gambling, your gambling activities may be dysfunctional and harmful to you. If your gambling is to reduce stress then you’ll likely feel bad afterward, since you’ll be caught up with feel-good chemicals during the actual gambling. Similarly, you’ll feel bad when you’re not gambling and so you’ll be motivated to gamble again to feel good.
4. You Have Debt
If your gambling behaviors have disrupted your finances to the point where you’re taking on debt, you definitely have gambling issues. You should only be gambling with the disposable income that you earn, so borrowing money from others for the sole purpose of gambling is very alarming behavior. Whether it’s bank loans, another mortgage, or even soliciting loan sharks, these debts are stressful and potentially dangerous.
5. “I Can Win It Back”
During the downward spiral that a gambling addiction causes, chasing becomes a common response. What is chasing? This is where you think that your next bet will be the one. It will be the one bet that will win back your debt and put you in the positive. This requires riskier betting, naturally, and you don’t win it back and only find yourself deeper in debt.
6. It Turns Criminal
When you’re financially strained and your next bet could be your way out, people get desperate to the point of criminality to fund their betting habits. Gambling addicts commonly engage in so-called white-collar crimes like fraud, embezzlement, and other manipulative behaviors. In worse cases, this can turn into robbery and other violent means of acquiring cash.
7. Your Relatives Are Concerned
While addicts try to cover up their activities, this can’t be done forever. After some time, your friends and family may start to notice and grow concerned. If this has happened, and you dismissed their concerns or even snapped back at them, you need to take an honest look at your gambling habits to see if they are disruptive. Don’t push concerned friends and family away, reaching out to somebody you know is often the first step in getting yourself out of an addiction.
8. You Just Can’t Stop
The core of gambling addiction is that you just cannot stop. That’s what causes all of the above behaviors that are the signs of gambling addiction. No matter what you do or think, you may find yourself gambling even after you’ve sworn that you’d stop. As hopeless as it may feel, you can stop. Support networks are vital for addicts, so you should reach out to loved ones for support and accountability while seeking professional help.