Gambling addiction can be very difficult to overcome on one’s own. Like other addictions, chronic gambling is a compulsion that cannot be managed despite its negative consequences. Like other addictions, gambling is a disease of the brain, a craving for the excitement and the “high” it evokes. The pathology is such that denial and magical thinking replace reality. The need to gamble becomes an obsession and can even replace interest in eating, sleeping, sex, socializing, hobbies or relationships.
Some of the common behaviors and resulting consequences we see in connection with gambling addiction are:
- “Chasing the loss” – playing to earn back a recent gambling loss.
- Gambling even when you have no money, credit, or other sources for loans.
- Inability to stop despite negative consequences.
- Belief that with just a little bit more time, money or luck, the loss can be recovered.
- Secrecy and lying.
- Job loss.
- Estrangement from a loved one.
Friends and family are also affected by this illness. Often, an addicted gambler stops showing up for family events. Family members experience gambling addicts as frequently irritable, distracted, self involved, secretive, superficial, or occasionally elated, but still not grounded or present. They are often asked to lend large sums of money to prevent catastrophic consequences to the gambler. In my practice, I’ve seen parents give up their life savings as a result of their adult child’s gambling. Even financially savvy partners can find themselves in enormous debt as a result of bailing out their loved one.
If you or a family member has a gambling problem that has become difficult to manage, please feel free to contact me to discuss a recovery plan. I have almost a decade of experience working with gambling addiction. I work with individuals, couples, and families.
To see the books I recommend on gambling addiction, please go here.