When some people think of gambling addiction, they have a picture in mind of someone who takes their paycheck and blows it on scratch offs or at the casino. Someone who is in jeopardy of being evicted from their home, can barely buy groceries, and has collection agencies calling. Although this is a picture of a gambling addict, there are other forms as well. Picture the person who holds a steady job, has money in savings, bills up to date, and visits the casino 2-3 times a year. Maybe they play a friendly poker game monthly and bet on their fantasy football league when September rolls around. Is this person a gambling addict? Well, maybe, maybe not. Here's the tricky thing with addictions. Sometimes it depends more on why a person uses, than it does on how much. Don't get me wrong, how much does matter. But the why matters too.
For this person described above, the "how much" isn't alot here (people go to Starbucks more often!). However, let's say the times this person decided to head off to the casino was right after an argument with their spouse. They needed some "cool down" time, & couldn't take it in their house any longer. So they called up some friends and off gambling they went. Instead of problem solving or facing marital issues, they avoided and "numbed their pain" by gambling. This is how the "why" becomes important.
Let's also not ignore other signs of gambling problems. Some of these are:
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money or larger bets than before in order to get the same feeling of excitement
- Trying to stop gambling, but when you do you feel restless or irritable
- Writing a bad check, or taking something that did not belong to you from family members or someone else in order to pay for your gambling
- Lying to family members/friends or others about how much money you have lost
- Losing money one day and returning the next in order to "get even"
There are many other signs of gambling addiction, these are just a few. If you think you have a problem, feel free to visit Gambler's Anonymous' website for more educational information. You can take a brief 20 question quiz on their website to assess if you should seek further professional help or attend a 12-step meeting in your area. Their website is http://www.gamblersanonymous.org
Written by: Tamara McCord MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.