Gambling becomes an addiction when a person chooses to gamble in spite of obvious negative consequences. Compulsive gambling is an illness.
Some of the characteristics of a compulsive gambler include:
- Being unable to accept reality
- Using gambling as an escape
- Feeling comfortable only when gambling
- Hiding your gambling or being secretive about your gambling habits
- Gambling even when you don’t have the money
- Feeling like you can’t control your gambling
Negative effects of a gambling addiction include:
Pathological gambling is similar to other impulse control disorders, such as kleptomania. Gamblers also tend to have a strong urge to feel powerful. A compulsive gambler is willing to do anything to maintain the image he/she wants others to see.
- Preoccupation and inability to concentrate
- Loss of control of your gambling
- Illegal acts to continue gambling
- Putting your job or relationship at risk
Health risks that come with a gambling problem include contemplating suicide (out of desperation). Studies have shown that addicted gamblers also tend to have a high rate of liver disease and high blood pressure.
Since every gambler is unique, a recovery program will need to be specifically tailored to each individual. What works for one gambler won’t necessarily work for another. Some of the options to treat gambling addiction are Gamblers Anonymous, Cognitive-behavioral therapy, trusted support groups, and getting involved with other activities. Through hard work and repayment of debts, former gamblers can get on the road to financial recovery.