Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as compulsive gambling, but both terms refer to the same pattern of behavior. A person who is addicted to gambling can't control the urge to gamble, in spite of the fact they know and understand that their habit is causing problems for them in other parts of their life. Since this is a compulsion, a person with a gambling addiction will continue to gamble whether they are winning, losing, feeling happy, feeling blue, or just plain broke.
People living with gambling addictions come in two different types:
- Some people start gambling because they enjoy the sense of excitement they get from this activity. These "action gamblers" tend to gravitate toward games where they are playing with other gamblers, such as card games, craps, or betting on sports. They experience a particular rush when they beat the other players or the House.
- Other people living with a gambling addiction participate in these activities to escape from the problems they are experiencing. Playing poker online, going to a bingo hall, or using slot machines is a way for them to numb out as opposed to getting a rush from playing.
The signs that your enjoyment of games of chance has crossed over into the world of gambling addiction are as follows:
- Taking time away from work or family to gamble
- Using money to pay bills for gambling
- Gambling in secret
- Being deceptive about how often you gamble or how much you are losing
- Gambling as a way to deal with stress or worries
- Celebrating involves gambling
- Trying to go for one big win to make up for the money you have lost
- Borrowing, selling items or stealing to get money to continue gambling
A person with a gambling addiction is living with an impulse-control problem. The fact that there is an explanation for the behavior doesn't excuse it.