In 2016, almost 10 million people in the United States suffered from gambling dependence. Though gambling can be a means of profit or recreation, too much can lead to severe problems. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association included gambling disorder as part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Gambling problems can happen to any person. In most situations, most people who demonstrate gambling dependence do not see it as a problem. You started with a fun, innocent pastime until it becomes an unnatural fixation.
Gambling problems can affect your relationships and hamper productivity at work. In worst-case scenarios, people even rack up huge debts and resort to unlawful means to fuel their addiction.
Here we have listed five behaviors associated with gambling dependence. Knowing these indications can help make it easier to access professional treatment as early as possible.
You think you have to keep secrets about your gambling ways.
You feel the need to lie to your close relationships. You do not want to tell them how much time or money went to gambling. You do not want them to think you still involve yourself in betting because they might not understand.
You have a preoccupation with gambling, and you cannot control it.
You like to relive past experiences; for example, when you unexpectedly made a big win. You want to schedule your next session and think of ways to get the money for gambling.
You no longer get excited with small amounts of money. You want to make bigger bets to feel thrilled. When you lose money, you keep on gambling to chase your losses.
You made attempts to cut back or end your gambling habits, but you keep on coming back to them. When you try to stop yourself, you feel restless and ill-tempered.
You make bets even when you do not have the money.
When your bankroll is empty, you use the money for something else to feed your gambling habits. You take the money for the bills or the children. You sign up for loans or other forms of credit. You may even want to borrow from others or sell your belongings to get what you want. Hitting rock bottom makes you desperate, but it does not stop you from gambling.
Your family and friends express their concern about you.
You do not think you have a problem, but your family and friends say otherwise. You may have lost a close relationship or job opportunity because of gambling.
You gamble when upset.
This behavior might be the most common sign of gambling dependence. Betting is no longer a means to pass the time; instead, it becomes a way to distract you from negative emotions. When you feel helpless, depressed, or guilty, you turn to gamble instead of other healthier mechanisms.
The first and most significant step to overcome addiction is self-realization. Once you have recognized that you have a problem, you can take steps to resolve it. Gambling dependence is a severe disorder, but you can do something about it to regain control of your life.