I have been around gaming for over a decade now, and I know how easy it could be to spend a little too much time on a hobby. Yet, as experience has taught me, I also know how to help those who need help get it. Gambling is fun, safe and quite worthwhile, but in those cases when you feel you might have spent a little too much time and effort, there are easy ways to keep yourself in check and always set yourself back straight.
The good news is that only a very small number of people ever develop symptoms of addiction, and the better news still is that there is always a way to help people who may play a little excessively. The first step towards solving a problem, though, is to admit you have one. So, how do you recognize a problem gambling behaviour? Easy, as it turns out.
Recognising the Problem
Gambling as such is a pleasant pastime many people appreciate. Some people play on a budget whereas others prefer to play with a bit more in the way of money and are known as high-rollers. Both groups can be keen players and still have a pleasant and sustainable experience playing casino games.
Yet, when there is an unhealthy addiction developed, this is when I need to step in and remind you that you might want to conduct a quick reality check and see if you have indeed been spending too much time. Here are some basic pointers that will quickly answer if you have been experiencing a problem:
- You have been gambling too much and perhaps more than what you would allocate on other leisurely activities.
- As a player, you feel a compulsive need to keep playing even though there is no reason behind it.
- You have repeatedly failed to stop yourself from playing, even though you know it is the right thing.
- As a player, you end up playing in a bid to escape reality or deal with your anxiety, agitation or distress.
- You have caught yourself lying to your loved ones, closed family members and friends to continue gamble.
- As a player, you have found yourself ignoring social and professional responsibilities just to spend a little more time gambling.
- You have jeopardized your relationships with others, whether they are professional or personal, in order to continue gambling.
- Your educational or professional background has started to deteriorate as a result of your hobby.
- You have resorted to theft or lies to sustain your gambling habit, selling possessions or borrowing money indiscriminately.
- You continue to gamble after a big loss or even a big win, placing disproportionate amounts every time.
Why Do You Become Addicted in the First Place?
Over the years, I have not just observed problem gambling, but also studied it. To best address an issue, you need to understand it, and I believe the best way to do this is by knowing more about it.
- Biological Causes
There is a combination of factors that influence our rational thought process and in fact, suspend it. Let’s take, for example, the biological factors. Gambling releases the same chemicals in your brain that are usually related to happiness, even if you are incurring a loss. This brings you to an interesting interjection where you realize that you might have a problem, but it feels rewarding enough to continue playing.
- Psychological Causes
I have also witnessed a number of psychological causes for a gambling problem, such as the Gambler’s fallacy which is a distorted thinking pattern whereby you believe that if you complete a set of prerequisites, the game will reward you. However, gambling is all about pure chance. There is no way to influence the outcome of games, and you will usually have to rely on nothing more than that. Some individuals tend to rationalize, meaning they come up with ways to blind themselves of rational thinking patterns.
If stress and problems in one’s personal life are too severe, such individuals may look for an escape in online gaming. This is a common reason and one I have observed push many people into irrational gaming patterns. However, the good news is that such issues can be addressed head-on and assist individuals in establishing clear and rational thought patterns instead.
How to Stop Gambling Addiction and Get Help?
A person who recognizes the problem might still be disinclined to seek help. An estimated half of all gambling addicts do not get any help, because they refuse to seek it. They fear that there is a social stigma attached to their behaviour. The plain fact is there isn’t one. Addiction is a medically recognized condition which requires specialist treatment. However, you don’t have to be hospitalized to deal with it. In fact, there are many ways you can help yourself minimize your dependence on third-parties. Here are popular ways I know work in dealing with your addiction.
- Therapy and Counselling
Hiring a professional to get to the root of the underlying problem can help you see the problem for what it is and help you move on. Therapists are good at bringing up emotional issues in a controlled environment and helping you sort your problems out. Once the underlying reason is gone, you will be able to control your compulsions even if they are still there.
- Finding a Support Group
Finding help in others is one of the strongest motivators. Peer pressure does work, and you can get help and support from people who have or are undergoing the same issues as you are. Organizations such as Gamblers’ Anonymous (GA) have been very popular and successful in resolving issues that pertain to problem gambling.
- Find the Medical Reason Behind It
Not least, sometimes your condition might do with a deeper problem, such as depression. On some occasions, going on medication prescribed by a specialist could help you see past your problem and stop seeking validation through gambling.
Admit and Solve the Problem
Lastly, I just want to remind anyone who may be experiencing gambling addiction that there is no shame in pursuing one’s hobby in the extreme. However, you need to ensure that your hobby doesn’t get in the way of your life, professional and educational opportunities, as well as your relationships with others. Therefore, establishing a baseline where you can still enjoy your hobby but also live a full life is important. If this proves too difficult on your own, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to those trained specialists who are there for you.