Gambling Addiction - First Signs

By Carlo Abela

First Signs of Addiction in Gambling

Of the many vices known to man, which include drugs, alcohol, smoking and gambling, the latter is the one that does the most damage, at least financially.

Casino gambling starts as a joke, a bit of fun, an evening out, and perhaps coupled with a few drinks, gambling doesn't seem harmless. You've heard stories of gambling addictions, but you know you're fine, you're not like the others, and you know when to control it, and when to walk out.

You try your hand at something simple, like a slot machine. These are far easier to try out than any table games as all you have to do is hit the spin button, and you're playing. The machine lights up, almost hypnotically, and with the slot machine's own internal music, and the favourable surrounding ambience, you're slowly drawn in to a tunnel, which might not have an end in sight.

You are wise, you know more than everybody else, and you certainly know your limits. With that positive frame of mind, you drop in €5 into the awaiting and money-hungry machine, which quickly gobbles it up, and changes your cash into credits. This is your big moment, and you eagerly wait for a good combination to come up on the screen, or better still, a jackpot. You then realise that your €5 won't make you rich if you bet low, and since your intention is to make a quick decent win, you decide to increase your betting, drastically.

Before you know it, your €5 is gone, so then you put in a €10 bill, and carry on playing away. After a few €1 spins, your €10 is history, and you get annoyed at how fast your money disappeared without your winning anything. You then decide to put in a €50 bill, which will last you longer, and better your chances of making some money from the machine. With all those credits on the machine, you become brave and dare to increase your bet to €2, or even €5 a spin, but to your horror, your €50 has gone too.

You then start to panic as all your cash has disappeared, so you decide to withdraw some money from your bank account, the sacred holiday account, which you have painstakingly been slowly and surely topping up every month. You know you're doing wrong, as it might not just be your money, but your family's money as well, but you assure yourself it will be fine as you will eventually win, and with the winnings, you can top up the holiday fund, and get the money you started off with in the first place. Casino gambling can be fun, if done in a controlled manner.

The number of people at risk of becoming Gambling addicted is growing rapidly because of Online Gambling

The above holds true for both real casinos, as well as when gambling online, for you still are putting money into the slot machine, be it one you can touch, or be it virtual. Gambling online has become all too easy, with the numerous gambling sites available. The common factor is your money, which is all too real. Gambling spans far and wide, with games such as poker, blackjack, roulette, lotteries, raffles, and even bingo, just to name a few.

There comes a time when you have to make a decision. Either to stop and count your losses, or keep on trying until you get your money back, and still make a win on top. If you tend to favour the latter option, then you could be in deep trouble, as you're already showing signs of becoming a gambling addict. You should never adopt that mentality towards gambling. You need to put things into perspective and decide on a 'gambling budget'. This could be a small weekly or monthly amount which would be labelled as the 'entertainment fund'. The important thing being that the entertainment fund doesn't soak up money from other important accounts, like food, clothing, heating, transport, school, rent, holiday, or even loan funds, even if you have every kind intention of topping the accounts back 'after'.

The stories heard from gambling addicts themselves, most of which are too scary to repeat, are enough to make your hair stand on end. They feel that even if they are in great financial difficulties, they are convinced that gambling what they still have left will be their ticket to financial stability. However, this is not usually the case, where the gambler ends up losing once more, as most gamblers never even come close to winning what they lost in the first place. Apart from losing all their money, assets, family, and friends, they might also end up in a corner without an escape route, and even if they won't admit it, they want and badly need help to break their destructive habit.

People gamble for a great many reasons. One of the most common reasons is the idea that one can get rich quickly. Another reason is the thrill, the emotional uplift, associated with risking huge amounts of money. With the odds not being in one's favour, gambling can lead to a financial disaster if not done in a logical and safe way. Gambling more than you can afford too often causes depression, anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts, which is hardly surprising after losing everything you've owned. Unfortunately, once the addiction sets in, breaking the hold is difficult, but not impossible.

The signs of having a gambling problem are many, such as keeping your 'habit' a secret, or you can't control how much you play, even when you can't afford to. An eye-opener is when your family and friends express concern about your 'secret habit'.

Being addicted to this habit, your body might suffer too. Once depression, coupled with severe anxiety set it, they can lead to lack of sleep, with undesirable results, such as skin colour and weight fluctuations. This results in the body crying out for some sort of temporary cure, like drugs, or alcohol, which will only serve to alleviate the original problem even further, causing long term repercussions, such as dependency, with the result of destroyed relationships.

What is the cure for Gambling Addiction?

Medication cannot cure your gambling addiction, but it can help to alleviate depression and anxiety levels, which unfortunately were originally the cause of the gambling habit. By treating these disorders, it can make the breaking of the habit easier, allowing the person to get back to living a normal life. One has to take into account that even though depression and anxiety are relieved by medication, one can then grow a dependency to it. For this not to happen, it's always best to be under the watchful eye of professionals while undergoing treatment.

Quitting the gambling habit is not an easy task to undertake, especially with so many gambling sites available, but as stated before, it's not impossible, as long as you have the right support group, the right treatment program, and you really want to quit. It might be asking for a great deal, but once overcome, the relief would be tremendous, and you will wonder why you didn't do it before. You'll come to realize just how much money went down the drain when it could have been used properly, and you will certainly live a better life.

Gambling addictions are a known fact around the whole world, and this phenomenon is also expanding to Ireland. According to a recent study, in Ireland alone, there are over 40,000 people known to have this type of addiction. Single men, mainly under the age of thirty-five, are at most risk. Luckily, help is closer than you think, but with any form of gambling addiction, there must be the honest desire by the person to actually kick the habit, for good.

Gamble Aware in Ireland

One organization which protects gamblers from themselves is GambleAware, based in Ireland, which is devoted to increasing awareness, improves education about this problem, and also funds treatment to help people kick this destructive habit. Apart from doing all the above, GambleAware will also be funding research to assist effectively the methods of treatment.

Casino gambling is fun, as long as it's kept under control. You can actually win large sums of money, as has happened so many times, for the lucky few. The key factor is not to become obsessed about it. You will lose, and you will win, but restrict the losing amount to a pre-budgeted sum which doesn't affect your life, or that of your family's, in any way.

Good luck, enjoy it, but gamble wisely.