When someone you care about is struggling with a gambling addiction, it’s challenging to figure out the best way to help them. How do you know if their gambling has turned into an addiction? Will they be upset if you share your concerns with them? Do you know what the treatment process for gambling addiction is? All of these questions and concerns are valid. The truth is, compulsive gambling can lead to devastating consequences that negatively affect the entire family, not just the individual.

When you notice the warning signs of gambling addiction, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. We understand that it’s a difficult topic to discuss and navigate on your own. Our team is here to offer compassionate guidance every step of the way.

What is gambling addiction?

Compulsive gambling, or gambling addiction, occurs when gambling goes from a harmless diversion to an unhealthy obsession that can cause serious consequences, such as someone spending all of their savings, or losing their home. Gambling can consist of sports betting, scratch cards, roulette, poker, slots, and more. In addition, gambling can occur in a casino, at a racetrack, or online.

Since gambling addiction revolves around a specific behavior, rather than abusing substances like drugs or alcohol, it’s considered a process addiction. A process addiction, or behavioral addiction, is a compulsion to engage in a specific behavior or activity repeatedly, despite damaging consequences. According to our gambling addiction coach, the anticipation of gambling (placing bets and the feeling of waiting for the outcome) is what people become addicted to. Individuals who gamble will chase that feeling of anticipation, or rush of adrenaline, despite how much money they may lose.

Gambling problems also vary in levels of severity. They can start by mildly disrupting a person’s life or putting strain on their relationships, and lead to major financial disasters, and changes in their behavior. Compulsive gamblers cannot control the impulse to gamble, even if they know they cannot afford to lose. Any gambling that disrupts someone’s life is considered a gambling problem.

What are the causes of gambling addiction?

The cause of compulsive gambling is not well understood. Comparable to many other addictions, compulsive gambling may result from a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors. Compulsive gambling stimulates the brain’s reward system, leading people to continually chase bets, despite their losses and the harm it may cause.

Gambling addiction is often associated with other behavioral or mood disorders. This can include undiagnosed or unmanaged ADHD, stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse. The significant losses associated with gambling addiction can also contribute to the development of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

What are the signs of gambling addiction?

Identifying whether a loved one has a gambling addiction can be extremely difficult unless they admit to it. Although, there are many behaviors congruent with this addiction. These include:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more money for gambling.
  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same “thrill” or feelings of pleasure.
  • Trying to control, cut back, or stop gambling without success.
  • Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression.
  • Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses).
  • Lying to loved ones to hide the extent of gambling.
  • Losing or straining relationships because of gambling.
  • The inability to maintain work or school responsibilities because of gambling.
  • Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money.
  • Asking others for money to bail out of financial trouble because of gambling.

How to help someone with a gambling addiction

Our team has witnessed the guilt and shame that families experience when their loved one is struggling with this addiction. They often feel that they should have recognized the signs that something was wrong earlier. We want to remind you that this is not the case. It can be extremely difficult to recognize a loved one’s gambling addiction on your own, and it’s never too late to seek help.

If you’re concerned about a loved one’s gambling problem, there are many resources and treatment options available. Treatment for gambling addiction varies based on a person’s needs, so it’s important to seek a professional that will guide them through the best treatment options.

Through the treatment and recovery process, we help individuals focus on building emotional relationships with themselves. We also emphasize the importance of developing a support system that they can confide in and trust. Additionally, we work closely with families to provide them with their own emotional and mental health support.

Above all, remember to take recovery one step at a time. If a setback occurs throughout the process, our team is here to help you and your loved one get back up and start again.

Are you or a loved one in need of support and guidance?

If you or a loved one is suffering from a gambling addiction, substance use disorder, or severe mental health condition, it’s challenging to manage treatment and recovery options on your own. At Feinberg Consulting, our team of highly trained professionals is here to help you find the proper treatment and recovery resources. Contact us today to learn more.