Gambling is a behavioural addiction; it is not a substance addiction, however, the individual still experiences the obsession of the mind and the overwhelming urge to use their addiction as with any other drug. They are still struggling to gamble as a means of escaping from problems or to try and relieve themselves of strong uncomfortable feelings.
The gambling behaviour is persistent and unrelenting and totally absorbs the thoughts of the individual. The preoccupation is so great that it becomes the most important thing in the gambler’s life.
The mind will become so absorbed with planning when, where and how the next gamble will take place that they will find it hard to function rationally and efficiently. Not only will everyday tasks feel insurmountable but work and relationships will be seriously affected. The gambler will be risking larger and larger amounts of money and constantly be preoccupied with planning how to acquire the money. They will start to take risks around obtaining the money and may go to extreme lengths such as dishonesty at work or stealing from family members.
Gamblers will struggle to make many unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop, particularly if they are short of money, but the urge and overwhelming compulsion to use will always be more prominent.
There will be many negative consequences of this addiction: career opportunities may be lost, education may be jeopardized, significant relationships may be damaged, and they may commit crime resulting in a criminal record.
The secrecy around this addiction can go on for years with the individual trying to cover their losses and leading a life of lies and deceit.
It is an exhausting and soul destroying existence.
But there is hope, many, many people have recovered from this addiction and lead fulfilling lives, it is about having the courage to change. Coming into recovery and getting open and honest in a therapeutic group will promote a new life free from the endless cycle of gambling addiction.