Humans can become addicted to many different behaviors including gambling and gaming. Many people are able to gamble and engage in gaming apps with little to no lasting effects. However, others find the thrill of gaming and gambling addictive and return to it time and again despite incurring great costs in terms of their relationships, financial security and general well-being. However, with concentrated efforts and the help of a counselor, those struggling can overcome gambling and gaming addictions.
Bingo, lottery tickets, casino games, online poker, going to the racetrack and even engaging in online gaming apps are all examples of this type of addictive behavior. Clearly, not everyone who gambles or games becomes addicted. There is no easy formula for determining who develops an addiction to gambling or gaming. Studies have indicated, however, that it is a combination of environmental, genetic, behavioral and biological factors.
DETERMINING A GAMBLING or GAMING PROBLEM
As outlined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013), Gambling Disorder is similar to substance-related disorders in nature, presentation and treatment. While the following list of signs indicates the potential for gambling problems consider its application to issues associated with excessive computer gaming as well:
- Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired excitement
- Restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
- Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control gambling
- Often preoccupied with gambling
- Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed)
- After losing money gambling, often returns to gamble again as a way to recover losses
- Lies to conceal the extent of gambling
- Jeopardized or lost a relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity due to gambling
- Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling
ACCESS AND IMPACT
Gambling and gaming addictions are more prevalent than ever before because people have constant access to the thrill of the behavior through the Internet. Like any addiction, compulsive gambling and gaming affects all aspects of life including physical health, relationships, finances and well-being.
If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome gambling and gaming addictions, consider the following:
✓ Schedule an appointment for a check-up with your primary care provider.
✓ Alternatively meet with a counselor or other provider experienced in treating addictions.
✓ Complete an honest appraisal of your gambling or gaming behavior.
✓ Identify the triggers in your life that compel you to pursue gambling or gaming
✓ Make a list of the current stressors in your life.
✓ Consider and write down questions you might have for your care provider.
✓ Share the information you have compiled with your care provider.
✓ Inquire as to what treatment options are available.
✓ Inquire about available community resources and support groups.
KEEP IN MIND
Determination and will power are often not powerful enough to overcome gambling and gaming addictions, and you are not alone in this struggle. Help is available, along with the hope of a better life. Consider reaching out to your health care provider and engaging other counseling resources for guidance on next steps.