Online Gambling Addiction and Help
Gambling on the internet can be fun and provide a great rush, but it can also lead to problems like online gambling addiction. The emotional highs and lows of gambling are strongly addictive to people who are prone to problem gambling.
It is commonly believed that online gambling addiction only affects weak willed people but this is incorrect. Major life changes and stress can lead to problem gambling in otherwise completely healthy, independent people.
Online gambling addiction is commonly referred to as "problem gambling" "pathological gambling" or "compulsive gambling." Any time online gambling disrupts some aspect of your life, whether it be your relationships, finances or work; it is considered problem gambling. You may also suffer from gambling addiction if you have tried to stop gambling but have been unable to stop.
Pathological and compulsive gambling are more serious manifestations of problem gambling, including the need to bet more and more frequently, irritability when trying to stop and the need to chase losses. There is no single, catch-all diagnosis for problem gambling, but if gambling causes problems in your life, it’s a problem.
Signs of an Online Gambling Addiction
A part of the problem of treating online gambling addiction is that the symptoms are easy to miss. Problem gamblers sometimes don't realize they even have a problem until it becomes more serious. Even people with full blown addictions can easily hide the symptoms from their closest loved ones.
You may have a gambling problem if you:
- Have often gambled longer than you planned
- Have made unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling
- Have lost or jeopardized a significant relationship or career opportunity because of gambling
- Think about gambling often
- Feel irritable and restless when trying to stop gambling
- Use gambling to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness
- Have had your reputation affected by gambling
- Are reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures
- Have lied to cover up the extent of your gambling habits
- Borrowed money to get out of gambling debt
- Have gambled to get money to pay your bills
- Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep
- Have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling
- Have felt depressed or suicidal after gambling
- Have gambled with income or savings that were supposed to be used for other purposes
- Returning to gambling to try to win back money lost while gambling
- Needing to gamble with larger amounts of money to achieve the desired excitement
Problem gamblers are notorious for avoiding seeking treatment and are good at hiding the symptoms. If you suspect a loved one has a gambling problem, please seek help immediately. The following signs may indicate someone you know has a gambling problem.
Loved ones may have gambling problems if:
- They gamble more than they intend
- There is an attempt to hide betting tickets, gambling money or other signs of gambling
- There are arguments over gambling and gambling money
- They are missing school or work to gamble
- Other people are saying that person has a gambling problem
- They are feeling guilty about gambling
- They have attempted unsuccessfully to stop gambling
- There are unexplained loans or cash advances
- There is an unusual increase in credit card activity
- There is missing jewelry, cash or valuables
- Savings and assets are suddenly dwindling
- There are calls or letters from debt collectors
- They are asking friends and family for money
- There are overdue or unpaid bills
- There is a new desire to control household finances
- There is secrecy over money and finances
Any one of these signs alone may not necessarily indicate a problem but if you have any doubts at all, please contact the National Council on Problem Gambling at 1-800-522-4700. The hotline is open for calls 24 hours a day and is completely confidential.
Treatment for Online Gambling Addiction
The most difficult step in getting treatment for online gambling addiction is admitting there is a problem in the first place. The good news is that once this major step is taken, treatment can begin at once. The National Council on Problem Gambling is a great resource for people who suspect they may have a gambling problem.
Gamblers Anonymous is another great resource for problem gambling help. Visit their website for more information about problem gambling, treatment and local Gamblers Anonymous chapters.
Getting treatment for problem gambling isn't always easy but it is always possible. The biggest step is to admit there is a problem and then to have the will to treat it. If you have the will to stop gambling, you are already well along on the road to recovery.
The internet does make gambling more accessible, but that does not mean you are helpless in the fight against gambling addiction. You can send an e-mail to any online casino and ask to be excluded from the casino for life. You will be unable to sign up for an account or deposit money at that casino.
Remember also that in the end, the choice to quit gambling is yours. It may not be easy, but people do recover from problem gambling and gambling addiction. There are resources and people out there that can help you fight gambling addiction. Visit any of the links above to get started today.
Gambling Is a Form of Entertainment
Remember that gambling is only a form of entertainment. The house always has an advantage in casino games. No matter how long you play or what kind of gambling systems you use, the house has an advantage every single time you place a bet. Look at the costs of gambling as a form of entertainment and balance your budget accordingly.
Do not look at gambling as a way to get rich or to make money. Look at it as a way to spend an evening of fun. Set your budget, stick to your budget and quit after you have spent your money. If you end up ahead after an evening of gambling, look at that as an unexpected bonus.
All too often, people fall into gambler’s fallacy when gambling. They lose five bets in a row at the roulette table and continue betting because they believe that the odds must eventually return to their favor. No matter what has happened in the past, the house always has an advantage. The roulette ball does not remember where it landed last time. Stick to your spending limits no matter what.
Poker and sports betting can be beaten by some people, but the vast majority of people lose money in both pursuits. Even if you take poker or sports betting seriously, it is important that you set strict spending limits. Even the best poker players go on losing streaks due to random variance.
Do not continue playing after you have spent your entertainment money for the month. It doesn’t matter if you have the best strategy in the world – there’s never a guarantee. Keep your gambling habits healthy and your budget in check. Trust me; the casino won’t be going anywhere any time soon. It will still be there when you return next month, next year or in ten years.
And finally, remember that there is nothing wrong with giving up gambling altogether. It is not an admission of defeat. If gambling causes you stress or money problems, it stops being a fun activity. Give it up and find something that actually brings enjoyment. There are plenty of other hobbies out there.