Gambling addiction: What are the signals to detect

In this article, we share the signals to detect when someone close to you is suffering from gambling addiction. Gambling addiction is one of the so-called ‘behavioural addictions‘. There is no addictive substance, but there is a behaviour in which there is tolerance (they need to play more and more), dependence (discomfort when they cannot play), active search and restricted interests in gambling and a very important impact on the patient’s quality of life.

Signs of gambling addiction can involve 

  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill.
  • A lot of isolation and spending time alone.
  • Bad sleeping patterns.
  • Low concentration level, thinking a lot about how and when to gamble. 
  • Irresponsible money management (don’t know where the money went to).
  • Missing valuable items. 
  • Lots of high and lot of lows feelings, there is almost no balance in emotions and quickly irritated.  
  • A lot of lies and deceit around everything that you ask to a gambler.
  • Closing and opening bank accounts for loans.

Gambling addiction: the far-reaching consequences

Unbearable costs are incurred without the subject being able to adequately assess the consequences of their actions until it is too late. They embark on gambling, theft or subject their family members to these expenses.

All this happens because gambling produces an intense activation of the brain’s reward circuitry and a release of dopamine similar to addictive substances.

Treatment of gambling addiction

In its treatment, although it does not produce a painful withdrawal syndrome as with opiates, or a dangerous one as with alcohol, it can produce great anxiety at the beginning.

Against the patient’s chances of recovery is the presence of casinos which proliferate mainly in poor neighbourhoods, the existence of online gambling which they can access directly from their mobile phones, and the aggressive advertising found on public and private television after dark. This advertising, with intense colours, direct messages> “play, play, play” and using relevant and charismatic characters from public life, acts as an intense and invincible trigger.

Covid-19 and gambling: More problems ahead

Due to Covid-19 and its additional restrictions and lockdowns, online gambling web pages have become more popular than ever. As most countries are in lockdown and shops, casinos and restaurants are closed, we spend more time on our mobile phones, computers and iPads. This makes online gambling easier to hide. It is less noticeable by the now excessive use of scrolling and clicking on online gambling sites than if you were sitting in the casino for hours. This can mean that others do not see that you need help until the problem has become very serious. Boredom is a major trigger for people who are struggling with or have recovered from gambling addiction.

For this reason, addiction to gambling requires intense and specific treatment by trained professionals.

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