Lots of folks like to gamble. Whether it’s playing slots, poker, betting on horse races, or seizing any other of a multitude of opportunities, gambling is accessible almost everywhere for those of legal age. Although casual gambling can be a great deal of fun, a harmless pastime can also be a source of financial and psychological ruin for those with an addiction.
Gambling can be dangerous if not done responsibly. It’s easy to get addicted to the illusion of easy money; however, the odds are always in favour of the house. In the long run, the house will always win. Granted, you might occasionally have a streak of good fortune, but if you keep playing, your winnings eventually will go back to the house. That’s fine for those who gamble strictly for entertainment and stick to their limits, but for millions of others, the give-and-take cycle of betting can quickly lead to addiction.
One of the most common catalysts for gambling addiction is a desperation for money. The gambler, feeling that the only way to solve their financial problems is to win a large pot, might bet all they have, in the hopes that it will eventually pay off. The gambler gets more and more invested in the game, and even more desperate to win back their losses; if the cycle continues, the gambler can quickly find end up in a financial, legal, and/or moral quagmire.
Some people simply chase the highs they experience when taking big risks. The thrill of seeing a big wager pay off creates a feeling of euphoria. However, that thrill is short-lived, so the Sisyphean quest continues.
All the glitz and glam of the gaming establishment can be mesmerising, and many people become addicted to the casino’s atmosphere. Everywhere you look, it seems as though people are winning. You want to join in the fun, but what you don’t see is that most gamblers never even come close to breaking even.
How do you know if you have a gambling addiction? Here are some signs you might not be in control:
- Gambling when you can’t afford to lose
- Feeling you need to lie about your gambling, or do so secretly
- Inability to resist betting, always feeling the next hit is just one wager away
- Desperately doubling down on bets to regain the money you’ve lost
- Loved ones expressing concern about your gambling habits
- You cannot stop gambling
The emotional consequences of gambling addiction can be just as detrimental as the financial ones. Excessive gambling wreaks havoc on your emotional well-being. It causes stress, anxiety, self-loathing, depression, and loss of sleep. Not only can it destroy marriages and tear families apart, but the lack of control can leave the affected person feeling utterly hopeless and even suicidal.
Gambling can be fun when done responsibly, but it doesn’t take long to get caught in a downward spiral if you aren’t careful. If you think you or a loved one might have a gambling addiction, it is important to get help before it destroys your life. Phone numbers for gambling addiction hotlines are posted throughout most casinos. These can point you in the right direction for counseling resources in your area. The support of family and friends will go a long way toward conquering your addiction. It won’t be an easy road to recovery, but it will be well worth it in the long run.