Why is Gambling Addictive?
Gambling addiction is a devastating condition that places individuals in a dangerous position. Gambling addicts have been known to fall into debt, lose their families and even their lives to this toxic affliction. If you suffer from gambling addiction, or know someone who does, then you’ll find lots of value and useful information in this article that’ll give you a clear perspective on how it affects your life and how to overcome it.
What Makes Gambling Addictive?
For most people, gambling usually starts out as an innocent ‘hobby’ that they engage in to escape the stressors of daily life. First, they experience ‘beginners’ luck where they seem to win every hand. They then slip into an abyss known as ‘gambling fever’, a state of euphoria that follows a few strokes of luck.
At this stage, the gambler might start having illusions of grandeur where they consider themselves invincible. However, it’s when a gambler starts to lose that things turn sour. This ‘gambling fever’ becomes an addiction, and failure to re-capture it leads to desperation and bad distress.
The Illusion of Control
Most gamblers find themselves under the illusion that they have everything under control. After a few winning streaks, they start thinking that they’re able to control the outcome of the gamble through their minds, not realizing that gambling is so called because it is a game of chance. And chance is something that you cannot predict or anticipate, no matter how good you think you are.
Thinking That Their Luck Will Change
By definition, any game of chance is bound to end in loss, but gamblers simply don’t see it that way. Once hooked, they keep believing that their luck will change even if the odds are clearly stacked against them. Despite the signs, they continue gambling thinking “the next round will be mine for sure”, and they fail to see that gambling will never solve their problems. Inevitably becoming like a dog chasing its tail, searching after an illusion that they’ll never capture.
What Gambling Does to Your Body?
Gambling is extremely stressful to the body. For example, it affects one’s sleep because you stay up at night constantly regretting your losses or trying to figure out a way to win. There’s also the stress of trying to figure out how to pay back the gambling debt you’ve amassed. Other common physical side effects of gambling include:
- Lack of appetite and losing weight
- Lowered libido
- You start to feel lethargic, weary; or agitated and nervous in turns. This causes fluctuations in your blood pressure and wreaks havoc on your immune system causing the development of ailments such as muscle tension, headaches, ulcers and bowel issues.
What Are the Health/ Financial Risks?
Gambling addicts usually end up suffering from mental ailments such as chronic depression, anxiety and nervousness. Symptoms for these conditions usually manifest themselves as follows:
- Decrease in social activity and isolating oneself from loved ones
- Hopelessness and feeling powerless
- Memory loss
- Difficulty processing information
- Constantly feeling aggravated
- Excessive sleep
- Suicidal thoughts
- Damaging relationships with friends and family
- Physically or emotionally abusing loved ones as a result of stress caused by gambling
- Low self-esteem
- Using drugs and/or alcohol to ‘cope’
A gambler’s financial situation tends to fluctuate and eventually takes a downward slope. This might prompt them to borrow more gambling money in the hopes that they’ll experience big wins and recoup their losses. Apart from creating a serious debt problem, here are some of the other financial risks caused by addictive gambling:
- Inability to pay bills on time
- Dispossession of property
- Pawning valuables
- Depleting your savings or maxing out your credit card
- Showing up late for work
- Inability to focus and low productivity
- Getting multiple warnings at work and eventually getting fired due to lack of performance
- Committing crimes such as: embezzlement, fraudulent insurance claims, Tax evasion, larceny and even arson
Why You Should Quit Gambling?
If the above financial and health implications aren’t convincing enough, here are some more compelling reasons why you should quit gambling:
It can cause you to become sour, self-seeking and ill-mannered
A gambler becomes so committed to keeping up his addiction, that he’s willing to even deplete his moral fiber in the process. The stress and depression that comes with gambling can turn a formerly sweet and loving person into a sour grouch who’s only concern is greed and chasing after money.
Losing Friends and family
Obviously, no one wants to associate with someone who is untrustworthy, rude and greedy, and having such a disposition can negatively impact one’s relationships. Selfishness and loss of integrity can also compromise your reputation and lead you to lose a lot of friends.
Letting Yourself and Your Family Down
Imagine how your kids and your family will feel when you constantly miss their recitals, award ceremonies, sports games etc. Gamblers are also most likely to borrow from friends and then fail to pay back the money or even worse, steal from them. All of this can seriously strain your relationships because your loved ones start losing hope in you and this usually leads to broken families through divorce or separation.
As mentioned, gambling can negatively affect your health and lead to ailments like heart disease, hypertension, bowel problems, memory loss and a host of others.
It Distracts You from Your Life Goals
Just like any human being, a gambler has hopes, goals and a vision for the future. Gamblers often become so distracted that they lose sight of who they are and their aspirations in life.
How Long It Takes To Quit Gambling?
As with any addiction, quitting gambling takes time. Luckily, there are helpful support groups and resources with useful information on how you can wean yourself from, and ultimately quit gambling.
The journey towards quitting can be arduous and is different for every individual. While there are no official statistics on how long it takes, it’s worth to note that some individuals can actually recover instantaneously. About 50% of all addictions tend to come to an end by age 30. Quitting is complicated and many individuals find themselves relapsing so it’s worth to look at it from a long term point of view and manage your expectations.
Recovery from gambling is a different process for everyone, and each one goes through their own unique journey. Some prefer to recover gradually in a group setting while others do it alone. Whichever method you use, remember to go into it with complete determination and be open to trying out different modalities.