What is Online Gambling Addiction?
An online gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling or a gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling in spite of the toll it may take or is taking on one’s life. Gambling in general means that you are willing to risk something of value to you in the hope of getting something of even greater value. This could be monetary, land, recognition, or anything that can be won or lost.
Gambling, much like drugs and alcohol, stimulate the brain’s reward system and can lead to addiction. Those with problems with compulsive gambling tend to continually chase bets that lead to a loss. This results in:
- Hiding behaviors
- Depleting savings
- Accumulating debts
- Often, theft and fraud
This is a serious condition that can end up destroying lives. Treating compulsive gambling can be a real challenge, but help is available. This will be explained at the end of the article.
Symptoms of Online Gambling Addiction
Though people often try to hide gambling, especially during times of loss, there are a few recognizable signs and symptoms that may point to a problem. These include:
- A preoccupation with gambling and how to get more time and money to spend on gambling
- Needing to bet more or more often to get the same thrill
- Asking others to bail them out of financial trouble when money has been gambled away
- Trying to unsuccessfully cut back or stop gambling
- Stealing or committing fraud to get money to gamble
- Jeopardizing or even losing important relationships because of gambling
- Feeling restless or irritable when gambling is not available
- Gambling to escape problems
- Lying about the extent of gambling
- Trying to get back lost money with further gambling
These signs and symptoms may present over time and may come and go, but at some point, most will be present for compulsive gamblers.
Differences Between Casual and Compulsive Gamblers
When people are casual gamblers, they tend to set a loss limit or stop playing when they lose. But those with compulsive gambling issues will try to keep playing in order to recover losses. This is a destructive pattern that tends to grow over time. Though some compulsive gamblers may go through a period of remission on their own, without professional help, they will likely return to gambling.
Risk Factors and Causes
The exact risk factors that cause people to gamble compulsively are not well understood in the medical world. It is likely a combination of biological, environmental, and genetic factors. The known risk factors for compulsive gambling include the following:
- Age – Compulsive gambling is most common in younger to middle age adults though gambling in childhood or the teenage years increases the risk.
- Mental health disorders – It is common for those with compulsive gambling problems to also have substance abuse problems or have personality disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD, and even ADHD.
- Influence – Those with friends of family members with a gambling problem are at greater risk.
- Sex – Compulsive gambling is more common in men than women, but are becoming more similar
- Medications – Drugs that are known as dopamine agonists and used for Parkinson’s of Restless Leg Syndrome have a rare side effect that results in compulsive behaviors like gambling
- Personality – Those who are highly competitive, impulsive, workaholics, and easily bored are at a higher risk.
Complications of Compulsive Gambling
Unfortunately, compulsive gambling can have negative effects on more than just the finances. Other areas of concern include:
- Relationship problems
- Legal problems
- Poor work performance
- Job loss
- Poor health
- Suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts
These can come on quickly or over time, but are seen with extended bouts of compulsive gambling.
While the financial concerns may be obvious, the others can be a shock. Relationship problems often come about as the compulsive gambler avoids social situations with family and friends in order to spend more time gambling. This is especially true of those involved in online gambling.
In fact, an increase in internet activity and secrecy around sites visited may be notable. Legal problems due to loss can ultimately result in jail time, especially if the person steals or commits fraud to continue gambling. Work performance may also suffer as the person spends time gambling online at work or cannot focus while thinking about the next time they can gamble. This may cause them to lose a job.
Poor health is a result of so much time spent online or engaged in gambling. Often people will forget about their basic self care needs and hygiene as they fall further into gambling compulsively. Finally, those in dire straits, unable to find a way out from under debt and addiction, may consider suicide or actually attempt suicide.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a compulsive online gambling addiction then professional help is needed. The sooner help can be gained, the better the outcome will likely be over time. If online gambling is the biggest concern, then it may be necessary to stay away from internet access at least for a time. When access is granted once again, sites that allow gambling will need to be blocked. When you or your loved one is ready for the help you need and deserve, contact The River. The River is a leading rehab facility in Thailand, one of the top in Southeast Asia.
Offering a 12 week program for all patients. The River feels that they are so good at what they do that if a patient completes the program and still relapses within one year that a complementary month will be given to that patient.
Through a focus on behavioral therapies combined with physical wellness, The River will help patients create the life they can live without gambling or related addictions. The treatment options offered have been successfully used for over 80 years and honed to create just the right environment. Through a focus on the trilogy of the mind, body, and spirit, The River offers an empowering experience that provides a new look into addiction recovery. You can get better and The River is here to help.