Depending on whom you ask, there’s nothing inherently wrong with gambling. In fact, we all take gambles from time to time. Whether it’s buying a $1 scratch-off ticket at the gas station, playing a game of poker with friends, or making an innocent bet with someone about the outcome of a particular event, everyone has gambled on something at least once in their life. But when gambling becomes your life, it’s no longer fun or reasonable.
4 Signs You’re Addicted to Gambling
Just like drugs and alcohol, gambling can quickly become addictive. However, unlike addictions to these substances, it’s typically much harder for others to identify the signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction. But it’s much harder to pull the wool over your own eyes. Here are some signs that you’re addicted:
- Lying and Covering Up
Do you feel like you have to lie about or cover up your gambling? While recreational gamblers are typically pretty open about their experiences, addicts do most of their gambling in secrecy. If you feel a need to hide your activities, then you’re probably engaging in excessive behavior.
- Chasing Losses
Most people have the self-discipline to cut their losses. In other words, if they lose $50 at a poker table, they walk away and do something else. Addicts don’t always have this capacity. Instead, they’ll put down another $50 in an attempt to recoup their losses.
If you find yourself consistently chasing losses, this is a sign that your gambling is going too far. Not only will this lead you into financial ruin, but it’ll also start to take an emotional toll on you. (Anxiety, depression, and extreme irritability can all stem from a gambling addiction.)
- No Longer Entertainment
For many people, gambling is purely entertainment. If they win, great. If they don’t, well at least fun was had.
When gambling no longer becomes entertainment, you need to reconsider your actions. For example, if you can longer watch a football game without having some money on the outcome, this is a sign that you’ve taken things too far.
- Risky Behavior
“Pathological gamblers don’t stop gambling when their bank account runs dry. Instead they go to extremes to find more money,” finance blogger Jeffrey Trull writes. “While this may stop with borrowing, some problem gamblers resort to theft, forgery, or other crimes to feed their habit.”
If you find that your need to gamble is leading you into risky behavior – or even just the thought of risky behavior – this is a clear indication that your gambling habits have moved past recreational and into the echelon of addiction.
Tips for Beating Your Addiction
A gambling addiction is dangerous and costly, but it doesn’t have to be a dead end. There are practical steps you can take towards reclaiming your life. The following tips will help:
- Admit there’s a problem. As cliché as it sounds, you have to start by admitting there’s a problem. You know it deep down, but there’s something powerful about verbally acknowledging it by saying these four simple words: I have a problem.
- Get professional help. Did you know that you can get professional help? Recovery centers like Resurgence Behavioral Health believe gambling addictions should be treated in the same manner as substance abuse addictions. This ensures the root issue is identified, rather than simply masking the symptoms.
- Get some accountability. The problem with gambling is that it’s so accessible. From the gas station down the street to the smartphone in your hand, there are ways to gamble 24/7/365 in total anonymity. Unless you have someone monitoring your bank account and asking you questions, you may be tempted to slip up.
- Spend your time wisely. As they say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. If you want to avoid the lure of gambling, start spending your time with purpose. Do something productive, rather than sitting on the sofa and watching TV. Develop a hobby, start exercising, volunteer, etc.
Reclaim Your Life
You don’t have to be a gambling addict any longer. While it takes hard work and discipline to overcome any addiction, you can do it. Stop taking the problem lightly and step up to the proverbial plate. There’s light on the other side – and it’s within reach.