Most of the discussion surrounding addiction has to do with drugs and alcohol. Yet there are behavioural addictions, such as gambling, that can be just as destructive. The good news is that gambling addiction is treatable with the right kinds of therapies. The experienced and compassionate staff at BlueSkies offers those therapies, combined with the right type of support compulsive gamblers need to overcome.
For the record, the NHS estimates there may be as many as 593,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. Among them are adult males and females from every walk of life, including a significant number of young people and university students under the age of 25. Unfortunately, problem gambling does not discriminate. Anyone who engages in gambling activities could potentially become addicted.
The NHS takes the position that problem gambling is on the rise in Great Britain. They say that easy access to gambling via the Internet is one of the most significant driving forces behind the the addiction. Whether or not that is true has yet to be determined. However, we can say that gambling addiction is a serious mental health disorder that can completely devastate a person’s life.
Just as with drug or alcohol addiction, gambling addiction has its own list of signs you can look for if you have any suspicions. You may have a gambling addiction if you:
- tend to be secretive about your gambling habits
- get defensive when others talk to you about your gambling
- find you are unable to stop playing after a reasonable amount of time
- find it easy to gamble even when you don’t have the money to do so
- allow gambling to take precedence over work, school, etc.
Friends or family members showing concern for your gambling habits is the biggest indicator. As outside observers, it is easier for them to notice what you are doing and recognise potential harm. We urge you not to ignore the concerns of others. If friends or family members believe you may have a gambling addiction, please heed their warnings and get some help.
Are there signs you can look for if you are concerned about a loved one? Absolutely. If a loved one is suffering from a gambling addiction, they will usually have significant financial difficulties that only get worse over time. Those with gambling addiction also tends to lose a sense of personal responsibility for work or school, investing time and resources in gambling instead. Lastly, they are prone to sudden and frequent mood swings that are directly related to winning or losing on a given day. Look for signs of anxiety or depression.
We tend not to think of problem gambling in terms of the kinds of health issues drug or alcohol abuse can lead to. Nevertheless, that does not mean problem gambling has no consequences. A gambling addiction can negatively affect one’s health. The constant cycle of emotional highs and lows can lead to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and other issues.
Beyond the physical and emotional toll, problem gambling can lead to other, more serious, consequences. For example, the NHS says problem gamblers are more likely to go to prison after a criminal conviction. Such convictions are usually related to theft, robbery, or fraud. Those addicted to gambling are also prone to developing alcoholism.
If you have any difficulty controlling your gambling habits you may already be well on your way to addiction. Make no mistake, the pleasurable feelings you enjoy when gambling are the result of the same brain chemical changes associated with alcohol and drug addiction. Your dependency will only get worse over time. We urge you to contact BlueSkies rather than ignoring the signs of gambling addiction. Let us help you overcome your cravings and take back control.