Gambling Addiction

The gaming industry is booming, generating plenty of income for the state, jobs for the unemployed, along with unlimited entertainment. However, one of its unsavory byproducts is gambling addiction, a malady that affects over 15 million people in the US alone. Three million of these people have been diagnosed as serious problem gamblers, also called pathological gamblers or gambling addicts.

If you are a problem gambler, you will find yourself doing things that you never considered yourself capable of doing, such as lying, cheating, stealing from funds set aside for important activities such as children’s education and housekeeping, and so on. Fortunately, the condition can be treated, but you should be ready to admit that you have a problem and show willingness to undergo treatment.

Men vs. Women

It was generally believed that men are more prone to gambling addiction than women; however, with the advent of online gaming, more and more women are getting addicted to gambling. While men become gambling addicts as teens and young adults, women develop gambling addiction later in life. Men usually get addicted to poker, craps, blackjack, and sports betting while women get addicted to bingo and slot machines. Women, however, are more willing to seek help for their gambling addiction than men are.

Dealing with Gambling Addiction

If you are worried about a spouse, child, partner, or friend who has gotten addicted to gambling, you must be gentle and firm with them. Gently bring to their notice the bad effects of gambling on them, the amount of money they have lost, the relationships they have wrecked, and so on. Once you are sure that the gambling addict has understood that he/she has a problem to deal with, do not allow him/her to get lost in depression. If addicts get depressed, they might run back to their gambling activities.

Help the gambler schedule activities to take his/her mind off gambling activities. You can take problem gamblers for walks, arrange vacations for them, or organize some outdoor activities such as skating, jogging, trekking, or even watch movies with them to help them forget gambling.

Keep gamblers away from all sources of money. This might make some gambling addicts violent, but as a caregiver, you must convince them that access to money will not help them get rid of their problem. If a gambling addict doesn’t respond to the above-mentioned treatment, he/she might require professional help.

Professional Recovery Programs

Since gamblers are just as unique as their gambling addiction problems, special professional recovery programs need to be designed. What is good for one gambler need not necessarily be good for the other. The first step is to recognize the fact that you have a problem with gambling, and once you have realized this and express willingness to fight it out, you have already won half the battle.

Call the confidential number 1-800-522-4700 of National Council on Problem Gambling, approach Gamblers Anonymous, or get cognitive-behavioral therapy. Seeking help does not prove weakness; instead, it illustrates that you are strong enough to tackle the problem.