Compulsive or habitual gambling is a behavioral addiction where the person has a pathological compulsion for gambling. This type of addiction is often destructive, but gamble addicts don’t stop despite the dire consequences.
Following are several tell-tale signs that you are addicted to gambling:
To hide your addiction from loved ones, you lie. Because your compulsion and obsession with wagering are so strong, you will do anything to satisfy your urge. You often disappear and come home penniless. You then lie when asked where you went or where you spent your money.
A pathological gambler is known to lie even to himself. This lie is known as cognitive dissonance, where the person behaves inconsistently with their general beliefs or values.
It is alright to gamble for money if you have some extra cash to spare. You stop once you reach your limit. However, it is an altogether different story when you lose more money than you can afford. This example is what pathological gambling is all about.
You can’t stop gambling even if you have already lost a lot more than what you intended to spend in the first place. Gambling losses can force you into debt or lose valuable assets like your home or car. Your losses can go beyond simple gambling debt. You may lose your loved ones and even your job in the process as you spend more and more time gambling.
Similar to other types of addiction, habitual gambling is also a dysfunctional coping mechanism. It is used to escape from problems and stressors and mask negative emotions. Even if you can keep negative emotions at bay, it has dire consequences.
While your brain may produce ‘feel-good’ hormones as you gamble, it will only make you feel suitable for a short time. You also get temporarily distracted from your problems.
However, when you are not gambling, the feel-good hormones drop back to normal levels, sometimes even lower than average. Thus, you will feel sluggish, irritable, and generally unhappy when not engaging in your favorite activity. Your emotions become dysfunctional.
Your compulsion to gamble gets too strong that even if you know you have no more money left, you refuse to stop the behavior. You burn your cash as soon as you get your paycheck and scoop your savings, grocery and rent money, and everything else you can lay your hands on – without regard for the possible consequences. Gamble addicts are always at grave risk of going broke!
As a result of your financial downfall and in a futile attempt to win back what you lost, you resort to borrowing. You exhaust all means to obtain a loan – a bank loan, second mortgage, and line of credit, to name a few. Then, you turn to loan sharks as a desperate measure. You will go to great lengths to have gambling money, thinking that the law of averages will finally be on your side and make you rich.
You need immediate help if you have some or all the signs mentioned above. Confide with your loved ones and trusted friends, so they can help you get back on the right track.