How do you know if you have a gambling addiction? If you’re a fan of the popular comedy series Brooklyn Nine Nine, you might remember the episode in which Captain Holt reveals his secret gambling addiction. Although this episode is good for a few giggles– including Captain Holt’s humorous quip about betting on a horse named “Yabba Dabba Doo”– Brooklyn Nine Nine is also quick to point out that a gambling addiction is no joke. In this article, we’ll learn more about gambling addictions and about the resources that can help you if you’re struggling.
Why is Gambling Addiction Bad?
For many people, gambling can be a bit of harmless fun. This is especially true if you’re making a low-stakes bet with a friend or buying a simple lottery ticket. Some people just enjoy the suspense of a bet; they take pleasure in the competition with a friend and the thrill of wondering, “Can I make this shot?” or “Will my team win the game?” even if they’re not wagering money. These are good examples of a healthy relationship with gambling because, in these scenarios, people can place a simple, low-stakes bet and get on with their lives. People who can do this are unlikely to develop a gambling addiction because gambling does not have a powerful emotional hold over their lives.
So, as you can see from these examples, gambling is not inherently bad. But it can become bad when it has more of a place in your life than it should. That’s how gambling can become an addiction– something that controls you every bit as much as a substance abuse problem with drugs or alcohol. Just as a drug addict is desperate to get his next fix, so a gambling addict becomes dependent on the rush of gambling. This can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in a life that is overtaken by the need to gamble. You might begin to place riskier bets, wagering your entire life savings or your family’s home in an effort to get the rush you crave.
How do I Know if I Have a Gambling Addiction?
So, how do you know if you have an unhealthy relationship with gambling? These are a few examples of the behavior you might see if gambling has taken control of your life or the life of someone you love.
- Bad financial choices
In the previous paragraph, we saw that risky, high-stakes bets can be indicative of a gambling problem. But if you haven’t reached that stage yet, there are a few other cues that can indicate a gambling addiction. Making bad financial choices in general can be a hallmark, as many people often take out loans or borrow money from others in order to fuel their gambling habit. Likewise, many people who struggle with a gambling addiction may view gambling as a way to pay their debts or avoid financial insecurity. So, if you find yourself relying on gambling as a back-up plan or a way to solve your problems, this is a good sign that gambling is more important to you than it should be.
- Using gambling as an escape
Many people become alcoholics because they relied on alcohol as a coping mechanism or a way to escape their problems. And the same can be true of gambling. If you feel dissatisfied or uncomfortable with your life and you find yourself turning to gambling as an escape, this can be a sign that gambling has an unhealthy role in your life. This is especially true if you feel that you’re only happy when you’re placing a bet or that gambling is your life’s only source of joy.
- Being secretive about your gambling
If you feel the need to hide your gambling from your loved ones, this may be a sign of a bigger problem. Whether you’re concealing the amount you spend or the frequency with which you place bets, secrecy about your gambling habits can be a sign that your relationship with gambling has become unhealthy.
These are only a few of the common symptoms that indicate a gambling addiction but they are some of the most serious. So, if you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional about getting help for your gambling addiction. As you seek help, it’s important to remember that addiction is a very real and very serious mental illness. It’s not something to be ashamed of and you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Resources like the Mind Diagnostics guide to gambling addiction can help you learn more about addiction and the resources that are available to help you overcome it. So, don’t suffer in silence! If you notice any of these symptoms, get help for your gambling addiction and reclaim control of your life.
More about the author Marie Miguel
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.