A gambling addiction is often called a silent addiction and this is because there are not so many behaviours and physical symptoms as other addictions for family and friends to notice there is a problem. Alcohol addiction can be accompanied with the constant smell of alcohol on the breath while a drug addiction may provide symptoms like bloodshot or glazed eyes.
If you believe your loved one is suffering a compulsive gambling addiction here are some signs to look out for:
- More time spent gambling – Where they used to gamble occasionally you now realise they are out gambling every weekend and often a couple of nights during the week. A gambling addiction will get worse over time and gambling for fun can quickly turn into a full blown problem.
- Lying about how often they gamble and how much money is being spent – Money for bills and shopping has gone missing or the gambler lies about how much money they have earned. Hidden gambling apps on their devices or suspicious behaviour when you walk into the room. People who are addicted to gambling very often hide their addiction from their loved ones.
- Will keep gambling even though they know the bad effects – A person with an addiction to gambling will keep gambling even though they understand the consequences. This is because gambling has changed the way their brain makes important decisions.
- Mood swings – When a gambler is addicted to betting their world is in turmoil. The mood swings can be due to the depression they might feel if after a loss and ecstasy after a win. It can be so debilitating after a win that they are unable to work. In the same way they may feel ecstatic and over excited when they have won.
- Missing work, school or family responsibilities – Gambling will take over the life of an addict and they will put everything else second best. Taking time off work or school to gamble is common and not only that it can be heartbreaking for family members who have been left in the lurch or promises are broken.
- Trying to stop gambling on their own – Having an addiction, including gambling will mean that the pleasure signals in the brain have changed and it is almost impossible to stop gambling by yourself. It may be that medication is needed to control the gambling urges in conjunction with therapy to help make lifestyle changes.
If any of these points has hit home with you about yourself, a loved one or friend it is very important that you look for help. Your GP will be qualified to talk to you about your gambling problem and point you in the right direction to get therapy and the help you and your family need to get your lives back on track.