5 Early Signs of a Gambling Addiction

a person in front of a slot machine showing signs of a gambling addiction

Gambling addiction affects almost eight million people in the United States alone. Addiction to gambling is a mental disorder characterized by a persistent and obsessive need to engage in gambling despite negative consequences. That being said, the term “gambling” these days encompasses a wide variety of activities outside of traditional casino settings. Today, the vast majority of gambling happens online and on mobile apps. Opening a gambling app on your phone or visiting a gambling website on your computer may be as simple as clicking a few buttons, depending on the state you live in. Addicts, however, place wagers in every imaginable setting, from casual handshake wagers to high-stakes wagers at casinos and sportsbooks. That being said, today we will discuss five early signs of a gambling addiction.

How Do You Define a Gambling Problem?

Addiction to gambling is characterized by a lack of self-control while knowing that one’s compulsive behavior is harmful to themselves and others and that the chances of winning are low. The more you gamble, the more you want to gamble, and the riskier your bets will become. This occurs whether you are betting on sports or playing cards. As we said, the incessant urge to gamble despite negative consequences is the hallmark of compulsive gambling. Gambling problems may disrupt personal and professional lives. Not only that, but a gambling addiction can also put a significant financial burden on the person suffering from it.

Those with a gambling addiction may use even their large wins to continue betting until they are broke. The biggest problem today is that gamblers have the option to gamble at all hours of the day and night. Thanks to the proliferation of gaming websites and casinos, the barrier to entry is extremely low. For people who are addicted, excitement comes from taking risks. This changes their mental state and gives them an extreme high. Like a heroin addict, a gambler’s life gets consumed by their addiction.

Signs of a Gambling Addiction

1. Negative Feelings or Depression After Playing

The truth is that some people can enjoy gambling without any ill effects. Non-addicts will play the slot machine only as long as they can afford to lose, at which point they will walk away. There is no way for an addict to just stop. That is the primary distinction between a gambler who occasionally partakes and one who is addicted. Compulsive gambling, like other addictions, is a way to deal with stress. Unfortunately, the act of gambling itself may bring on a whole new set of unpleasant feelings, even if you’re only trying to forget about a stressful circumstance. When you’re not gambling, your brain’s reward region doesn’t get its usual supply of “feel-good” neurotransmitters. This causes gambling addicts to experience feelings of lethargy, irritability, and depression. 

2. Obsession Over the Game of Choice

All pathological gamblers suffer from a lack of self-control, leading to an unhealthy preoccupation with gambling and the prospect of winning. So, even if you aren’t currently gambling, the thought of doing so has crossed your mind. You can’t help but think about your past betting experiences and fantasize about what you’d do with the money. The thing is that, even if you do win, you always end up gambling away your winnings, so you never get to actually do things. These thoughts may become more intrusive and upsetting over time.

3. People Are Telling You You Have a Problem

Sometimes it takes time for those closest to a gambler to realize they have a problem. You should pay attention to the advice of others if they tell you that you have a problem. Because if you don’t, you might not find out until it’s too late. In most cases, individuals resist coming to terms with the fact that they have a problem. They have been telling themselves falsehoods for so long that they have difficulty believing anyone who tells them the truth, no matter how close they are. When those closest to you express worry about your activities or behavior, it’s time to give it some serious thought.

4. Neglecting the Risk of Losing

Gambling addicts can’t resist the impulse to gamble even when their problems worsen financially or face legal repercussions. One possible explanation for their continued gambling is a hope that a “big win” may save them from their financial woes. The sad truth is that gambling addicts get a rush from gambling, whether they win or lose. This is why it will take more than a sizable loss for them to finally call it quits.

5. Showing Signs of Withdrawal While Not Gambling

Those with compulsive gambling tendencies may have just as much difficulty recovering from withdrawal as those with drug dependencies. Recognizing the symptoms of gambling withdrawal might be helpful in dealing with it. When it comes to behavioral addictions, researchers have shown that there is a broad spectrum of withdrawal symptoms that may be classified as either physical or emotional. When a person with a gambling addiction abstains from gambling, even for a day, they may experience emotional withdrawal symptoms. Examples of such symptoms might be:

  • Depression
  • Cold sweats
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Low sex drive

When experiencing withdrawal, gamblers think that they need to gamble in order to feel normal or happy again. This is why it’s vital for gambling addicts to realize there is a variety of options available to help them overcome issues of addiction.

Learn How to Stop Gambling and Get Help Today

Getting sober is difficult, but with the right therapy and a strong support system, it is possible. Without the aid of experts who have guided others through the process before, it may be difficult to take the first steps toward recovery. Friends and family who are there for you are essential to getting well, but they may not know how to assist in the best way. Therefore, the best thing to do would be to avoid becoming addicted in the first place, and we hope that these five early signs of a gambling addiction will help you do that.