Gambling is often thought of as a recreational activity, rather than an addiction. Yet, despite the seemingly harmless nature, an addiction to gambling can occur no matter what kind of bet you’re making. Whether it’s betting on cards, sports games, races, or slot machines, a bet of any amount can cause a chain reaction and develop into a serious problem. Our team here at Free by the Sea wants to inform you of the dangers of gambling addiction and how to look for the signs if you believe someone you know has fallen victim to it.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
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Gambling addiction is repeated gambling that becomes an uncontrollable habit. This type of addiction often goes unnoticed until it begins to put a strain on a person’s everyday life. It is an addiction that is classified as an impulse-control disorder. Men and women who suffer from a gambling addiction cannot exercise impulse control, and they will continue gambling despite the consequences, whether it is a gain or loss. Even without losing total control, gambling can still be a disruptive behavior.
What was once an innocent hobby can turn into a much bigger problem at hand. Our staff at Free by the Sea is here to address your concerns and questions about a possible gambling addiction that you or a loved one is facing.
Types of Gambling
There are three main types of gambling that you should be aware of: professional, social, and problematic. Professional gambling is when men and women who have risen to the highest level of gambling possible place bets on certain events and games. For example, there is a world poker championship held every year, where the most experienced poker players compete to be deemed the world champion and win a very large cash prize.
Social gambling is the harmless type of gambling we see within casinos and amongst friends. It is the most common type of gambling, and it involves everyday, regular people who are usually betting smaller amounts. There are many types of social gambling, like slot machines, betting on horse races, and lottery tickets. Most sports associations even have virtual “fantasy leagues” attached to them now, where fans draft teams and place bets on players each season.
Both professional and social gamblers can fall into what we call problematic gambling. Problematic gambling is when someone loses control over being able to stop and cannot go about their daily life without doing it. They find any reason to gamble their money and material things away even on games they know they have a low chance of success for them to win back what they’ve spent. This is the point when gambling becomes an addiction, and it can happen to anyone.
Signs of a Gambling Addiction
Here at Free by the Sea, we believe being informed is the best way to acknowledge a possible addiction that has occurred. Over the course of many cases, we have compiled a list of things to look for if you believe you or someone you know has developed a gambling addiction. Some of the things to look out for are:
- Always thinking and talking about future gambling endeavors that may arise and how to get the money for those
- Increasing gambling amounts to feel the same kind of “high” as before
- Unsuccessful in cutting back gambling
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not being able to gamble
- Lying to family and friends about the extent of gambling that has occurred
- Stealing or cheating someone out in order to receive more money to gamble with
- Relying on others to use their funds and materials to bail you out of risky financial situations you have gotten in because of gambling
Factors that May Cause a Gambling Addiction
Gambling can stem from a variety of reasons that are caused by both environmental and biological factors. One environmental reason for gambling might be the desire for excitement because your life seems to be stuck in a rut. Another could be living alone or not having many friends and seeking some sort of socialization to escape from unpleasant thoughts and feelings you have towards your current situation. You could also be in a social situation that influences you to gamble because the people around you are doing it.
A biological factor that may cause you to try gambling is having a family history of it. Your genetics have been found to play a huge part in having an addictive personality. If you have a parent, sibling or even grandparents that have had a gambling addiction in the past, you are more likely to become addicted if you try it.
Another factor is gender, and males are also more likely to become addicted to gambling than females are. Lastly, your age can determine whether or not you develop this type of disorder. Younger people have been found to take higher risks when it comes to gambling and are more likely to become addicted to it.
Risks and Effects of Gambling
The effects of gambling addiction are a very scary reality that many people do not take into consideration after their disorder has developed. Although seemingly reasonable and harmless, gambling can grow to become a nasty habit, affecting you and your family in many different aspects as you become more devoted to feeding your addiction. You can put your financial future in jeopardy if you continue going without treatment for your gambling addiction. The more debt you pile onto yourself, the farther away you are from building stable a savings account to live off of once you retire.
Because you’re solely focused on where your next bet is going to be placed, you lose focus on other things in life that are more important. It is more than likely that you will ask the people closest to you to help you out financially at some point because of your addiction. Relationships with your family, friends, coworkers, etc. can become strained. Relationships even diminish because of your excessive gambling and expectations of them to bail you out of situations. It is also possible to lose your job because of your gambling addiction, which will only lead to further financial hardships.
Men and women throughout Washington facing gambling addiction may find they alienate their loved ones, are in debt, steal, or feel they can’t stop without additional help and guidance. Our team here at Free by the Sea wants to give you the opportunity to tackle your addiction head-on in our facilities. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions about possibly receiving treatment for your gambling addiction.
There are 77 treatment beds available to house patients within our facilities. We have hired certified substance abuse counselors, including licensed mental health therapists to help you overcome your addiction to gambling in Washington. They use high-quality, evidence-based addiction treatments that have been tested over time to prove their effectiveness.
Some of these treatments include DBT, CBT, EMDR, and trauma-informed treatment that address underlying issues of addiction. By letting our professionals assess your current state, they are sometimes able to pinpoint other coexisting factors of addiction, including depression and anxiety.
Once you’ve been enrolled in our initial treatments, you will start to learn about how to prevent relapse once you’ve completed your recommended stay. Our staff will also reteach you basic life skills you may have forgotten while in the thick of your addiction. You will attend group therapy sessions that will allow you to build a strong support system of people going through similar situations. In these, we put an emphasis on twelve-step meetings that we believe are essential to a full recovery.
We understand the importance of appealing to every demographic, which is why we offer residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels of care. Our peaceful and safe campus is located on five acres facing the Pacific Ocean. We have built multi-sports areas that include volleyball and basketball courts, along with an exercise room that houses all types of workout equipment. Along with giving our patients a place to practice healthier habits physically, we also offer nutritionally designed meals to restore health from the inside.
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Recognizing addiction can be difficult, and at times, equally hard to address. This is especially difficult with an addiction like gambling because it is oftentimes seen as a social norm. When a gambling addiction is not managed, though, an addict faces the potential of losing everything, including their relationships, jobs, and material things like houses and cars. We want to offer gambling addicts a safe space to overcome their addiction, as well as relearn how to live their lives without any judgment or criticism.
Addiction is something that any person can face. Whether you are researching for you or a loved one, we encourage you to reach out to us at Free by the Sea for support. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help end the cycle of gambling addiction.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.