It’s not always easy to spot a gambling addiction. Unlike the many physical signs and symptoms that present themselves with substance abuse, the side effects of a gambling addiction are arguably more subtle.
Despite this, a gambling addiction can destroy a person’s life. It’s critical, then, to spot the signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction as early on as possible. Only then does a person stand the best chance of making a full recovery and overcoming their addiction.
Here are the signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction, and how to spot them.
Symptoms of a gambling addict
Like many process addictions (including sex addiction), the symptoms of a gambling addiction usually present themselves in behavioral changes. For example, an addicted gambler will oftentimes:
- Become aggressive in situations of stress that inhibit their ability to gamble.
- Feel restless and irritable when not gambling.
- Experience mood swings associated with process addictions, and may suffer from co-occurring disorders like depression and severe anxiety.
- Have trouble limiting other types of process behaviors, too.
In severe scenarios, a gambling addiction can even lead to suicidal tendencies and an addicted gambler may try to take their own life.
If this is the case, be sure to act as fast as possible and do what you can to admit an addict into hospital, a professional treatment facility, or call your local suicide prevention hotline and seek advice.
Signs of a gambling addict
There are some notable signs to watch for if you believe someone has a gambling addiction. For example:
- Do you believe they are lying to you about how they spend their time and where they go?
- Do they often miss family occasions or arrive late to gatherings?
- If you suspect your partner of gambling addiction, are they leaving your child alone for extended periods of time when they’re supposed to be in their care?
- Are they financially struggling, despite earning a liveable wage?
- Are they neglecting personal responsibilities and often distracted by something else?
- Are they often in financial disputes with others?
- Have there been any changes in patterns of sleep, sex or eating?
- Are they deceiving family members or stealing money from close relatives?
Of course, these behaviors aren’t specifically associated with a problem gambler. Rather, these signs are a beacon for concern that a loved one is doing something suspicious and perhaps irresponsible, and they invite further investigation about a person’s habits and routines. In the event that a person showing these signs is in fact a problem gambler, it’s time to seek professional help. The sooner you can do this, the higher chance of success there is.
Self-help for gambling problems
There are some self-help steps that a problem gambler can take to try and conquer their addiction. For example, a person can try to:
Strengthen their support group
Many gambling addicts suffer in silence for fear of shame and judgement about their habit. However, this solitary suffering often perpetuates an addiction and causes a gambler to risk more.
Opening up to loved ones, then, is a sure-fire way to try and conquer an addiction at home. We all rely upon our communities in various ways, and a problem gambler is no different. What’s more, a person may be gambling because of feelings of negativity, neglect or unhappiness in life. By strengthening community, then, a problem gambler may begin to feel happier within themselves, and the desire to gamble might fade.
Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways
Turning to gambling to evade feelings of hardship in life can be unhealthy, but the process itself is no different than going for a long run to clear your head. A run, however, is a healthy alternative to gambling.
Trying to build positive habits like exercise, rather than turning to gambling, is an effective way to curb the bad habit.
Seeking help for underlying mood disorders that cause problem gambling
Many gamblers suffer from dual diagnosis disorders, experiencing mental health maladies like depression, anxiety and severe stress. Gambling is oftentimes a consequence of these feelings.
Seeking professional help for these root behaviors, then, might be more effective than solving the addiction itself. Here at Tikvah Lake Recovery, we address both the problem addiction and the root behaviors simultaneously. Our residential treatment programs help clients not only overcome their addiction, but also unlock the core reasons ‘why’ they are addicted.
To find out more about how we can help with problem gambling, contact our admissions office today.