Gambling addiction has been around for as long as there’s been gambling. The Internet has changed the game, though, bringing the opportunity to bet a few bucks right into the home and the workplace.
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This rise of online gambling (especially in online slots with no download needed) has produced a swath of new concerns by family members and friends who see the tide of gambling sweeping their loved one into the abyss of financial destruction and social destitution. Still, gambling is an entirely legal and normal thing for millions of people around the world, most of whom do it for fun without creeping into dangerous territory. How can you know the difference? Here are five signs.
An abundance of re-loadable cards are popping up around the house
Since the US passed its anti-gambling provisions, getting money into an online casino has become much more difficult. Most people have to use the sorts of reloadable cards you’ll find anywhere. If you see many of these cards, you’ll know that your loved one needed to make multiple deposits. While there could be a legitimate reason for having many of these cards, chances are he’s engaged in gambling.
Unusual interest in off-the-wall games
If your loved one is a sports bettor, he might begin to show some of the signs of gambling addiction. It’s normal to get heated over a close game involving your own team. But what if he’s sweating the action of a Tuesday night football game between Toledo and Akron? Betting on unusual games doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one has a problem, but it’s a good sign that something may be amiss.
Emotional highs and lows
Gambling addiction has the ability to produce something akin to bipolar disorder in people who are severely engaged. If you know your loved one is gambling and you see erratic shifts in mood, you might encourage him to seek help. Great wins can produce spectacular highs, with the person displaying energy late into the night. Losses can produce dangerous lows, causing addicted gamblers to show emotional neediness. A steady run of these swings is a good sign you’re dealing with an addicted gambler.
A rash of unlikely financial downfalls
People in the midst of a gambling addiction don’t like to talk about their financial situation. They will be evasive, and if they run into serious financial difficulty, they’ll make up bizarre excuses and scenarios. Some will claim their bank accounts were hacked. Some might fake losing their debit and credit cards to avoid having to pay for something. The hallmark of an addicted gambler is trying to preserve whatever money is left for their own gambling purposes. If you notice many unlikely financial scenarios, your loved one may be dealing with a serious problem.
Gambling can take over a person’s life. When they’re winning, they want to bet more, and they’ll spend hours working up the next bets. When they’re losing, they’ll want to chase the losses in order to get back to even. Either way, they’ll be consumed by the desire to keep betting. If you know your loved one is gambling and that loved one begins abandoning his social life, it’s probably time for him to seek assistance.
Gambling addiction is serious. It afflicts millions of individuals worldwide, causing financial damage and leading to death or run-ins with the law. While gamblers might think they’re hiding the symptoms, this usually isn’t the case. If you know what to look for, you can tell a loved one is in the midst of addictive behaviour. Keep these things in mind so you can encourage the addicted gambler to seek help before it’s too late.
How to Put Yourself First and Get Your Life Back
It can easily take control of your life and make you do things you never thought you would. Doing anything you can to spend the time gambling becomes your only goal. You’ll lie, plan in advance, steal or do anything necessary to get back that rush of adrenaline when you feel the skies the limit, and you’ve no place to go but up. Then you lose, and lose, and lose again. Every time you do, it knocks you down a notch and makes that eventual feeling of despair an unwelcome guest.
However, that feeling always comes back, no matter how bad you feel, no matter how many times you promise never to do it again; you always end up going back. It’s not winning money you’re addicted to. It’s the rush of adrenaline, and it’s only temporary. Even when you win and you take the time to think about all you’ve lost, that feeling of despair comes back. It’s time to put an end to this vicious cycle. You can do it, and you will succeed if you put the following steps in motion.
- Admit to yourself, family, friends and loved ones about your problem.
The first thing to do is to go to all your friends, family and other loved ones, and admit to your problem. You’ve likely lied to these people ever since your problem started. You might have actually stolen from some of them, or borrowed money and took too long to pay it back. It’s time to mend these fences and admit to your mistake. Getting this off your chest and talking about it with the ones you trust and love is the first step in getting past this issue. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply talk about it.
- Find a support group.
There are plenty of avenues to pursue when it comes to needing an outlet for your frustration. You can join a support group, or go it alone with a counsellor. However, whatever you do, just make sure you put yourself first and set aside the time to sit down once or twice a week to get things off your chest. To make it easier on those around you, make sure to speak with someone who’ll have no preconceived notions, and won’t sit in judgment. Make sure it’s someone you don’t know who will help you find a solution, and not remind you of the costs of your mistakes.
- Eliminate all access to cash of any kind.
This is an essential step. You must realize that your inability to control your urges is directly attributed to your access to available cash and credit. Take all your credit cards and cut them up. Do this in front of someone to make sure all of them are destroyed. You’ll still be paying these cards down, but you won’t have the ability to withdraw any money from them. Take your bank card and give it to your wife or special someone. If you don’t have someone to hold this for you, then destroy it as well.
At the beginning of each week, have this person come with you to withdraw the money you’ll need for the remainder of the week. Make sure to account for gas or any other item you’ll need. This money will be yours to spend as you wish. If you succumb and gamble, then you’ll limit your losses and won’t make a bad situation worse.
Allow your special someone to have access to your bank accounts. If you have internet banking, provide them with access to your information online. The deterrent will be your concern about being found out. If you think of gambling again, you’ll be reminded that someone will be watching your banking transactions. You must be cognizant that if you make a mistake and slip, you’ll likely have to explain yourself. Having to explain you’ve done it again, can be very uncomfortable.
- Set up a weekly schedule of when you’ll be home and what you’ll be doing.
Your biggest issue is your lack of control over your gambling problem. Giving up this control won’t be easy, but it’s absolutely necessary. While you can’t control your urges, you have been in control of your access to cash. After step 3, this will no longer be the case. With step 4, you’ll take it a step further by limiting your available free time. The two biggest factors contributing to your gambling is your free time and available cash. Once you’ve eliminated your access to money, you’ll then have to eliminate your free time. This doesn’t imply that you live in a box or under house arrest. What it does mean is that you have a set time when you’ll be coming home.
- Find a new outlet for your addiction.
You’ll now devote this compulsion of yours to something new. You are going to look within yourself to find something to take the place of your gambling addiction. This doesn’t mean you find a new and equally dangerous one, but it does mean that you find something that you can devote your time to. According to some experts, it usually takes three weeks or 21 days to end a bad habit. However, this is unlike any bad habit you’ve ever developed before, so you’ll need more time to get this out of your system. What about bowling, reading, writing, fishing, golfing, touch football or anything else where your energies could be put to better use? Find that activity that will occupy your time.
It’s never easy to admit you have a problem. It takes a lot of courage to admit you’ve lost control and need help. However, you can get past this and you will. It’s not going to be easy, but as time passes, you’ll begin to appreciate everything you once forgot. Your new addiction will be spending time with family, friends and loved ones. You’ll no longer be burdened by the allure of gambling, and you will regain your independence.