For most people, gambling is something to be enjoyed. It is a way of having fun on occasion and is never anything more serious than the odd bet on the horses or a football accumulator. For others, the extent of their gambling is to play a line or two on the lottery each week. However, there are those for whom gambling becomes a major problem. It develops into an obsession that takes over their life. Every spare moment is spent either engaging in gambling or thinking about doing so.
When you consider the impact that this activity has on daily life, it is easy to understand why gambling addiction is bad for health, relationships, and finances.
The Rise of Gambling Addictions
While most people’s initial thoughts turn to substances such as drugs or alcohol when they think about the term ‘addiction’, gambling addiction is actually a big problem here in the UK. Furthermore, it is one that seems to be growing year on year.
There are many reasons for this. A lot has to do with the fact that gambling has become much more accessible. Online gambling has made it easy for anyone to gamble from the comfort of their own home. With gambling sites offering free bets to entice new members, it is not difficult to see why more and more people are choosing to try their hand at winning a life-changing amount of money.
The trouble is, very few people actually do win these life-changing amounts. Indeed, most will spend a small fortune trying to secure that elusive win, particularly those who develop crippling gambling habits.
Another reason for the rise in gambling addiction is the presence of fixed odds betting terminals, or FOBTs as they are more commonly known, in almost every betting shop in the country. Each betting shop is permitted to have four of these machines; machines that have now been dubbed ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’.
Although there are plans to reduce the maximum stake per bet, these machines have until now been set at a maximum of £100 per spin. And because they are capable of spinning three times per minute, a gambler could lose £1500 in just five minutes. Moreover, because these machines are designed to be addictive, campaigners say they are preying on society’s most vulnerable.
The Impact of a Gambling Addiction
It is important to look at why gambling addiction is bad for individuals, their family, and society in general when considering the impact that it has. As you might well imagine, gambling can have terrible consequences for the affected individual.
Many people who find themselves hooked on gambling will become trapped in a desperate cycle of gambling and trying to find ways of funding their habit. As this activity requires a constant source of cash, it can be difficult to keep on top of things and so many individuals start borrowing from credit card companies or getting loans. When they run out of options in terms of securing finance, they might start borrowing from friends or family or even start stealing from loved ones.
All this can potentially have a detrimental impact on many areas of the person’s life. Most gamblers will try to hide what they are doing from friends and family until they are in a desperate situation. Family members often do not realise the extent of a loved one’s problems until it is at a critical stage. Some gamblers suffer greatly with mental health issues and are under immense stress as they try to keep their illness a secret.
Gambling also has a strong link with criminal activity. When desperation sets in, some individuals will take extreme measures in a bid to rectify their situation. They might believe that by ‘borrowing’ money from their employer and gambling it, for example, they will be able to win it all back – and then some. They are incapable of thinking clearly because of how the addiction has altered the functioning of various areas of their brain and are strongly convinced that their actions will have a positive outcome.
What usually happens though is that they lose the money they have stolen and find themselves in an even worse situation. Many will plunge on regardless, finding themselves entrenched deeper and deeper in their hole until they can see no way out. Many will end up suicidal and instead of reaching out will take their own life, leaving family members and friends devastated.
Others will get caught before they can replace the money they have stolen and will be prosecuted for fraud, subsequently finding themselves in a terrible situation. This will again leave their loved ones distraught and themselves possibly looking at time behind bars.
With all this in mind, it is clear to see why gambling addiction is bad for health, relationships, and finances.
Do You Have a Gambling Addiction?
A gambling addiction is like any other addiction in that it does not occur overnight. Perhaps you once found pleasure in gambling but had full control over when and how much you gambled. You could probably have gambled every now and then and then not thought about it from one bet to the next.
However, as time went by, your gambling might have become more frequent and you may have started to spend more money when you gambled to increase the thrill. If this sounds familiar to your situation, it could be the case that you already have a problem. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you spend a lot of time gambling or thinking about gambling?
- Do you spend more on gambling than you can afford to lose?
- Have you increased the amount of money you spend on gambling to achieve the same level of excitement?
- Do you try to chase your losses but end up losing even more money?
- Have you started borrowing money or selling your items to fund your gambling?
- Do you try to hide your gambling from loved ones?
- Have you begun neglecting your responsibilities at home or at work?
- Have your loved ones suggested you might have a gambling problem?
- Do you feel guilty or ashamed when you gamble?
- Is your gambling causing you to feel unhappy, stressed or anxious?
- Are you struggling financially because of your gambling?
If you have answered yes to more than two of the above questions, then it is highly likely you have a problem and will need to seek professional help to get control of your life. Reaching out for help now means preventing your situation from deteriorating even further.
Help for a Gambling Addiction
A gambling addiction is a treatable condition, and you should know that you are not alone; you do not have to continue suffering in silence. If you want to regain control of your life once more, it is important to take action as soon as possible.
You may need a programme of inpatient treatment so that you can leave daily life behind for a few weeks and move into a facility where you will have no access to any form of gambling. This type of treatment is recommended if your addiction is severe.
A rehab programme in a residential facility will mean that you are removed from temptation, allowing you to focus on recovery without any distractions. Your days will be filled with therapy and treatments designed to uncover the reasons for your addiction while providing you with the skills required to avoid a return of your illness in the future.
Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are often used to help change your addictive behaviour. During CBT sessions, you will be helped to identify the negative thought patterns that may have been the catalyst for your maladaptive behaviour. By learning how to challenge your thoughts and by learning how to use positive alternatives to your negative behaviour, you can overcome your gambling addiction.
You will learn why gambling addiction is bad for not only yourself but also those around you. Your family may also benefit from taking part in therapy sessions to help them deal with the aftermath of the addiction. Family therapy can help family members address any issues they are dealing with because of your addiction, but this type of treatment can also be used to deal with potential underlying causes of your illness such as family conflict or abuse.
For more information on how to overcome your gambling addiction, please get in touch with us here at Liberty House Clinic. We treat all types of addiction in a friendly and supportive environment and have a team of fully trained professionals with experience and knowledge to ensure you get the most from your programme. Call us today for more information about how to beat a gambling addiction once and for all.