How to Get Help for Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction is a serious issue for many American gamblers and it’s not always easy to spot a problem. That’s why our team of experts have put together this guide to help players suffering from problem gambling or addiction. This is not meant as an accusatory guide, we just aim to give anyone help if they need it. So, we’ll be focusing on identifying an addiction and how to get help. Moreover, we will be sharing our tips for treating a gambling problem privately.
Most players will be familiar with the concept of ‘walking away’ from a losing streak. However, it’s not always as simple as it appears. Of course, there are many ways to spot a gambling addiction in the making, but this is where it begins. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tear yourself away from a fun game. Still, if you’re losing too much of your bankroll, it might be time to take a break. If you’re not convinced that this is an issue, keep reading.
What is Gambling Addiction?
From a technical standpoint, an addiction is an uncontrollable urge to do something. In terms of substance abuse, this is an impulsive urge to keep drinking. Similarly, gambling addiction is the constant urge to wager, be it on casino gaming or sports betting. Many addicts will not recognize this first sign, but it is a precursor to the three kinds of addiction associated with gambling. Symptoms will differ from person to person, but there are a few common habits that will give clues. We’ve listed the most commonly diagnosed types below.
- Compulsive gambling – this is when a player will bet without considering the consequences. Generally, they will look for any excuse to bet and keep going until they have no money left. Even then, they could lie to get more and keep gambling.
- Binge gambling – this form of addiction is much harder to identify because the player can go months without placing a bet. However, they will likely start compulsively gambling for a short time and then walk away again for a long period.
- Problem gambling – lastly, comes problem gambling. While it is considered the least ‘extreme’ form of addiction, problem gambling can become a huge problem eventually. This is because most problem gamblers will chase their losses and try to hide their actions. They will also refuse to get help until the problem escalates.
How Common is Gambling Addiction?
Unfortunately, gambling addiction is a growing issue in America, especially in states where it’s legal. Since the federal ban on sports betting was repealed, this will likely increase statistics of addiction. While all states have to provide measures for responsible gaming, there are few who can support treatment for those affected. Using global statistics, we can estimate that at least 3% of the population in every state could be affected by a gambling problem.
However, a definite 1% will suffer compulsive habits. These figures are drawn from multiple studies on addiction across many countries. Conversely, this could be a lot higher in states like Nevada and New Jersey, where most major casinos operate.
How to Identify a Gambling Problem
Now that we’ve explained the types of addiction and how common it could be, we’re going to list our steps for identifying it. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and that they may not always be easy to see. In addition, we recommend contacting organizations within the United States that deal with treatment for further assistance. So, here are the basic steps for identifying problems with gambling:
- First, a gambler will increasingly want to gamble and think about gambling often as well as try to gamble more.
- Next, they could feel withdrawal symptoms, mainly irritation, if they haven’t gambled for some time.
- While gambling, they will also take bigger risks and make large bets to feel a thrill.
- They may also use it to escape reality or any difficulties in their lives.
- Many problem gamblers will also chase every loss and try to win it back.
- When confronted by those they care about possibly being addicted, they will try to hide it or get defensive.
- Some players will also turn to crime, like fraud or embezzlement, to fund their habit without considering the consequences.
- They might seek help to pay off their debts, but use the money to gamble more.
- Finally, they might try to stop and eventually fall back into old habits without help.
Getting Help for Addiction
When seeking help for an addiction as a family member or as someone at risk, there are a few resources to consider. We generally recommend self-exclusion for online and land-based casinos first. This will stop the person from visiting old haunts and getting back into their habit. After self-excluding, we recommend using online services like Web Nanny to block gambling websites and any other pages related to it. In addition to the above, we also advise getting counselling from professionals either in a group setting or individually. For more information about treatment, contact the services below:
- Problem Gambling CA – (1-866) 531-2600
- SAMHSA – (1-800) 487-4889
- National Council on Problem Gambling – (1-800) 522-4700
Your state may also have other services available, so contact the local community center as well.
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