The irrepressible drive to continue gambling despite the negative effects it has on your life is known as compulsive gambling, often known as gambling disorder. When you gamble, you’re putting something you value at risk in the hopes of winning something even more valuable.
Like alcohol or drugs, gambling can cause the brain’s reward system to become overstimulated, which can result in addiction. If you have a compulsive gambling issue, you can keep chasing wagers that end in losses, deplete your funds, and put you in debt. To feed your addiction, you can hide your conduct or even start stealing or engaging in fraud.
A dangerous problem that may ruin lives is compulsive gambling. Even though treating compulsive gambling can be difficult, many individuals who battle the disorder have found relief via professional treatment.
Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) can include:
- Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning gambling activities and how to get more gambling money
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
- Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
- Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
- Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
- Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses)
- Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling
- Risking or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling
- Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away
- Most casual gamblers stop when losing or set a limit on how much they’re willing to lose. But people with a compulsive gambling problem are compelled to keep playing to recover their money — a pattern that becomes increasingly destructive over time. Some people may turn to theft or fraud to get gambling money.
Periods of remission, or times when compulsive gamblers play less or not at all, are possible for some persons. However, without medication, the remission frequently ends.
When to consult a physician or mental health expert?
Have your acquaintances, coworkers, or family members voiced concern about your gambling? Then pay attention to their concerns. You can find it challenging to recognize that you have a problem because denial is usually always a component of obsessive or addicted behavior.
It’s unclear exactly what drives someone to gamble obsessively. Compulsive gambling may be brought on by a confluence of biological, genetic, and environmental variables, as is the case with many other problems.
Despite the fact that the majority of people who play cards or place bets never develop a gambling problem, some elements are more frequently linked to compulsive gambling:
- Mental health issues. People who gamble compulsively often have substance misuse problems, personality disorders, depression or anxiety. Compulsive gambling may also be associated with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Age. Compulsive gambling is more common in younger and middle-aged people. Gambling during childhood or the teenage years increases the risk of developing compulsive gambling. But compulsive gambling in the older adult population can also be a problem.
- Sex. Compulsive gambling is more common in men than women. Women who gamble typically start later in life and may become addicted more quickly. But gambling patterns among men and women have become increasingly similar.
- Family or friend influence. If your family members or friends have a gambling problem, the chances are greater that you will, too.
- Medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome. Drugs called dopamine agonists have a rare side effect that may result in compulsive behaviors, including gambling, in some people.
- Certain personality characteristics. Being highly competitive, a workaholic, impulsive, restless or easily bored may increase your risk of compulsive gambling.
Compulsive gambling can have profound and long-lasting consequences for your life, such as:
- Relationship problems
- Financial problems, including bankruptcy
- Legal problems or imprisonment
- Poor work performance or job loss
- Poor general health
- Suicide, suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts
- Although there’s no proven way to prevent a gambling problem, educational programs that target individuals and groups at increased risk may be helpful.
If you are at risk for compulsive gambling, you may want to avoid gambling in any form, gambling-related persons, and gambling-related environments. To help stop gambling from getting worse, seek help as soon as a problem arises.