One often associates gambling with casinos, butthe truth of the matter is that gambling includesnot only casinos and card rooms but bingo gamesand lotteries as well. At least 85 per cent ofAmericans have gambled once in their lives, andnowadays, due to the introduction and increasedpopularity of online gambling sites, there hasbeen a marked increase of at least 600 per centin teenagers and college students who are intogambling.
Gambling is also legal in 48 states. So thereis little wonder that those who start outgambling as a form of diversion eventuallybecome problem gamblers, and ultimatelybecome pathological gamblers.
Of course, as with all addictions, pathologicalgamblers, or those who are clearly addicted togambling, often deny that they have theaddiction. So, it is best for someone to beknowledgeable on the different signs andsymptoms of this type of addiction. First of all,gambling addiction begins as an escape or asolution to a predicament, and is not limited tojust financial problems.
These problems can range from simpleboredom to psychological problems likefeelings of inadequacy, failure, or lack ofcontrol. And because it is in gambling thatthey find brief and temporary feelings ofcontrol, power, and success that addicts findit more and more difficult to find a betterand more permanent solution to theirproblems.
One telltale sign of gambling addiction is when itbecomes more important than family – in fact, itbecomes the only important thing. Time thatcould otherwise be spent with family is nowspent on gambling. Even time that should bespent in the office or in school is also spent ongambling, and during idle times, one’s thoughtsare often preoccupied with gambling.
A gambling addiction can wreak veritablehavoc on one’s financial situation. Tocontinue gambling, the addict willfrequently end up using all of his finances inservice of another round of play, even to thepoint of bankruptcy or, worse still, theft.
In almost cases, those who become pathologicalgamblers are unable to control themselves. Theythink that this is where they will strike it rich, butunfortunately their definition of rich is not just acouple of thousand dollars richer, but lifestyle-changing rich. So often times, they continueplaying even after their money has run out,because of the illusion they have set in theirminds of that unimaginable wealth.
Casinos have also been able to profile problemgamblers. They are the people who are likely tohave outbursts during a game, they play waybeyond the average of three hours, and theyconstantly go to the ATM machines to get moremoney as their bets tend to become higher andhigher.
There are also signs with regards to the gambler’shabits. Gamblers would often resort to lying andeven becoming very evasive or secretive. Onescary sign that shows how much impact it hascaused on one’s life is changes in one’s behavior.According to studies done by GamblersAnonymous, at least 48% have consideredcommitting suicide and 1/3 of those haveactually attempted it.
If you suspect you or a friend may have aproblem, you are strongly encouraged to contactyour local gambling addiction hotline. There ishope and help available