Compulsive gambling arises out of an uncontrollable urge to experience the natural anticipation and thrill of making large bets and potentially gaining large returns. Even if the outcome is not always positive, some people will be so addicted that they end up driving themselves towards a financial crisis and possibly even poor health and well-being.
Gambling addiction is a form of impulse-control disorder where sufferers cannot control their urge to gamble – even when they are aware of the consequences and the hurt it may be causing themselves and their loved ones. They will be constantly seeking the natural high that comes with placing bets, and may often find themselves doing things they never thought they would, like stealing money to fund their habit. A gambling addiction becomes the sole focus of a person’s life – they think about it all the time and it is all they want to do, whether they are happy, depressed or broke. Ultimately, even when they know the odds are against them and even when they cannot afford to lose, people with gambling addiction will be unable to take their eye off the next bet.
Unfortunately, rather than confront their problem many people who compulsively gamble will go to great lengths to hide it. Reasons why may vary, but it is often out of fear and shame that their friends and family will discover how much they throw away on their habit. Failing to recognise and get help for a gambling problem can cause a lot of disruption and harm to the lives of the gambler and those around them. People with a gambling addiction will be under a lot of stress – constantly worrying about money – and may experience depression and anxiety. They may also face difficulties in their working life and relationships. Despite this, unlike other addictions such as alcohol or drug addiction, people who compulsively gamble will not have easily visible physical effects. This means you are unlikely to know someone has a gambling problem unless they tell you.
Every day people are given opportunities to gamble, but with the rise of the Internet gambling is now accessible in the comfort and privacy of our own homes. A gambling addiction can develop slowly and steadily, but there may be underlying reasons as to why some are more susceptible than others. Although some people with gambling addiction think they can stop when and if they want to, often this is not the case and professional support is needed to help them overcome their negative habits in order to build a healthier lifestyle and make better choices.