Addicted to gambling
Some form of gambling is available in almost every town today, from the simple slot machines to the up market casinos and of course the online casinos offering poker rooms where high stakes are used and massive bills can be run up on credit cards. For most people gambling is nothing more than fun and is considered harmless entertainment, however, for 4% to 6% of gamblers it becomes an addiction, which not only can have a devastating effect on their own lives but that of their loved ones too.
What is the difference between casual gambling and compulsive gambling?
Casual gambling can be defined as playing a game of chance and people will bet on many different forms, for example dog or horse races, lotteries, casinos, cards rooms and playing bingo.
Compulsive gambling is defined as an illness which begins to take over a person’s life and in the end they will have no control over the amount they lose and most place huge bets and will get seriously into debt.
The three phases of gambling addiction
- The winning phase
- The losing phase
- The desperation phase
The winning phase – When a gambler is in a winning phase they will often win large amounts of money over a short period of time, this fills them with optimism that they will continue to win which in turn enhances the excitement they feel when betting and they begin to increase the amount of money they bet.
The losing phase – During this phase a gambler will brag about how much they have won in the past and they will begin to beg, borrow or steal money to use for gambling, gambling and getting back to the winning streak is all they will think about and it starts to affect not only their life but those around them. This is the stage when debts begin to build up as the gambler loses more money striving to reach the winning streak again.
The desperation phase – By the time a gambler reaches this stage the addiction is overwhelming and they will have increases their gambling dramatically in the hope of turning things around and will have alienated friends and family in the process. By the now the gambler could be experiencing feelings of hopelessness, suicide and could have turned to alcohol or drugs for relief.
Who is affected by gambling?
It is thought that about 4% of the adult population will experience a serious problem with gambling that will lead to significant debt building up and cause problems such as job losses, family disruption, criminal activity and even suicide.
Compulsive gambling affects not only those that gamble but also their family, friends and employers. As the compulsive gambler extinguishes their own bank balance and credit cards they will turn to family and friends to carry on with their addiction and may even turn to illegal activities.