Gambling comes in many different forms such as betting on sports, buying scratch cards, playing poker or slots, or more increasingly playing games online. Gambling addiction can be defined as the continuous desire to gamble, despite the often negative consequences that it can have. Often the thrill of gambling can cause a natural high that can be very addictive.
Over time gamblers become less focused on winning or losing, and instead they become entirely focused on maintaining the high that they experience whilst gambling. This can lead gamblers into accumulating huge amounts of debt that affect not only themselves but also those around them, leading to huge difficulties in relationships also.
In addition to the financial and relationship difficulties gambling can have, there are also a range of mental health issues that can arise. When gamblers realise the financial implications of their actions they can experience severe anxiety and panic attacks over the debt that they are in and what will happen if their loved ones find out.
Low self-worth is extremely common among gamblers, and this is temporarily relieved whilst they are gambling due to the high that they experience, which can be increased particularly if they win. However, when the game is over or if they lose their high they will then crash, sending their self-worth extremely low and into a depression until they play again. Experiencing the crippling anxiety, panic attacks, depression, low self-worth along with the financial and relationship implication can lead gamblers to be at risk of suicide
Since gambling has become so easy to access online and can be done from home it can be very difficult to spot. If your loved one uses gambling to relax them, if they are being secretive about how much and how often they are gambling, if they are having trouble controlling their gambling or are gambling even when they do not have any money then this could be a real cause for concern.
Unlike drug and alcohol addictions there are not direct physical withdrawal symptoms if someone stops gambling. However, as discussed above it can cause gamblers to experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, low self-worth and be at risk of suicide. As a result it is extremely important for those with gambling addiction to seek professional help to address not only the addiction but also the mental health contributing factors that may have caused it and also the mental health implications that have resulted from it.