Access to gambling has caused more and more people to experiment, and become hooked on gambling than ever before in history of the US. And before I continue, I want to be clear – playing the lottery is also gambling — and an addiction to the lottery can be as devastating as an addition to the casinos.
Addictions can manifest in different ways. Not all gamblers experience the addiction the same or exhibit the problem in the same way, just as alcoholics can hide or “shield” their problems from those around them.
Besides lottery addictions (which are found more in females than males), gamblers typically get addicted to one aspect of gambling: slot machines, roulette and poker being the big three.
Having the problem, doesn’t mean addicts can’t function. Many people can have serious gambling addictions but still maintain employment and give the aura that “everything is fine”. But the sad truth is, being able to put on this “happy front” only means that the addict hasn’t hit rock bottom. However, all gambling addicts that do seek treatment first – will find that bottom.
One thing to notice is when your friends or associates stop socializing, and become isolated — they are either at the casino, or locked away from everyone. That should give a warning to check into your friend further.
Are they unusually interested in sporting scores — even though you know they were never really big into following sporting teams? Do they seem unusually happy or depressed after reading the scores? Addicts, and those on their way, tend to have major mood swings based on whether they are “winning or losing”.
What about their personal finance? Do they borrow small amounts of money but never pay back? Are the requests for money increasing in frequency or amounts? Then all of a sudden, the seem to have “money to burn” but never pay back those who loaned money.
Or they griping or complaining too much that they are “underpaid” at work? That others “in their fields make more” and they should make more also? This in itself is not fully indicative of gambling addictions — but taken in context with other observations can help to you spot the problem.
Lying and stealing is another (bad) clue to a gambling addiction. If caught or suspected, the addict will fabricate amazing stories, intricate and believable. All the while, you find small but expensive items missing from your home, desk, etc.
Employers also need to be aware of what their employee is doing. An employee with access to company funds or assets can get themselves into a situation worse than gambling addictions — they can be jailed for stealing from the company. Employers should also be concerned when an employee wants all calls “screened” — most likely, this is because he or she is getting calls from bill collectors and payday loan services.
If you hear that you friend has been selling personal belongings, when you never hear that before, you should be concerned. There is a good chance that belongings were sold to pay (or cover) gambling bets.
Taken as a whole, if you begin to notice these common symptoms, you should investigate further. If your fear is proven to be valid, you must get this person into some type of gambling program help.
Without help, a gambling addiction leads to the same dark place as drug or alcohol addictions — eventually having their lives taken over the the “drug” of choice.
Most gamblers with bad addictions wind up jobless, and in the worst cases, homeless if their addiction is allowed to go unchecked for too long. Studies have shown that people with gambling addictions are more prone to illness and frequent “call-ins” or days absent, because they stop taking care of their health.
For more information on gambling addiction talk to your family doctor or look on the internet for the gamblers anonymous web site, or from one of the many internet web sites dedicated to helping gambling addicts to locate professional help in their area.