Do you like buying lottery tickets or spending time playing slot machines? Have you ever been penniless or even went into the red as a result of gambling? Frequent gambling can be a sign of ludomania. How to recognize this problem in yourself and start playing properly?
Ludomania can lead to job and welfare losses, legal and even family problems – and the list goes on.
Fortunately, there are specially established care and treatment programs for people with this kind of addiction who want to stop gambling and learn to control their behavior.
What is Gambling Addiction?
Actually, the desire to scratch off a lottery ticket layer with a coin, play slots or go to a casino is not necessarily a sign of ludomania. However, if the thought of it is so pathological that you are not able to get rid of it until you start playing, then you probably have a serious problem. The main features of gambling addiction are not only an obsessive desire to play but also the inability to control one’s behavior during the game. Game addicts would still gamble, despite the negative consequences e.g. financial, legal and social problems.
Many gamblers can do things they would never have done if they hadn’t had this addiction. For example, some of them steal from friends and relatives or break the law in order to get money to gamble or pay off accumulated debts. Despite the desire to quit the addiction, many gambling addicts are not able to cope with the problem without help.
Signs of Gambling Addiction
According to the International Classification of Diseases, ludomania can be attributed to hidden illnesses due to the lack of obvious physical signs and symptoms. Еven gambler’s close friends and family members may often be in the dark for many years. One of the ways to recognize addiction is to watch the alleged gambling addict during the game.
Here are the signs of gambling addiction:
- obsession with gambling e.g. lotto, slots, betting, and others .;
- avoiding work, school, home or social responsibilities, in favor of gambling;
- neglecting the communication with friends or family members who have expressed concern regarding possible addiction;
- financial difficulties, such as losing a house, car, work, etc. due to gambling;
- stealing money to make another bet or pay debts;
- selling the property to get money to gamble or pay debts;
- inability to control their behavior, even despite the desire to control it;
- ignoring bills and other financial obligations in favor of gambling;
- the person is constantly hiding, deceiving or in some other way masking the existing problem;
- denial of their actions or the existence of problems.
How to Understand That You Already Need to Limit Your Playing Time?
Despite the fact that it is difficult to recognize ludomania from the outside, you have a great opportunity to find dangerous symptoms by yourself before others notice them.
Read more: Gambling Therapy: System Operation Overview
You may have a gambling problem if:
- you are completely unable to control your desire to gamble;
- you feel the need to gamble until you spend all your money;
- you hide your habit to gamble from friends and family members;
- you gamble using money that was intended for other important purposes;
- you want to stop gambling, but the situation is out of your control.
Ludomania: Myths and Facts
Myth #1: Ludomania is the problem only for those who can’t afford to gamble.
Fact: Pathological gambling leads to emotional breakdowns, difficulties in personal life, as well as legal problems and negative financial consequences. Even if you have extra money, gambling can be a problem, because your social life suffers from spending too much time on gambling.
Myth #2: If you do not gamble every day, then you do not have an addiction.
Fact: Excessive gambling (every day or periodically) can be a problem. Even if you do not play regularly, gambling can still cause financial, social and legal problems.
Myth #3: Gamblers are driven by their partner’s behavior.
Fact: People with gambling addiction often shift the blame to their loved ones, thus trying to rid themselves of the responsibility. But this does not necessarily mean that the partner has anything to do with the problem.
Read more: Why Gamble? Research Findings
Not all types of gambling lead to addiction. Responsible gambling is quite real, and many gambling establishments adhere to a policy that aims to provide players with the opportunity to enjoy the game without the risk of becoming gambling addicts.
Gambling institutions that adhere to the principles of responsible gambling provide:
- safe and fair game conditions;
- rapid identification of minors and vulnerable players and taking appropriate measures to isolate them;
- special attention to issues related to gambling problems;
- guarantee of timely payments to both the client and the casino;
- testing of the gambling offered by casinos to guarantee the element of randomness and adherence to the rules.
Consequences of Ludomania
The destructive impact of gambling affects not only the gambler’s life but also people close to him. In North America alone, gambling addicts spend about $5 billion a year. Many of them have debts, which amount to thousands of dollars.
Among the negative effects of gambling addiction are:
- financial problems, including debt, poverty, or bankruptcy;
- domestic violence and child abuse;
- suicidal thoughts or actual suicide attempts;
- legal problems, including arrests for theft or prostitution;
- behavioral disorders in gambling addicts’ children.
How to Gamble Properly?
Ludomania affects each person differently, so the treatment must be chosen on an individual basis. The first and one of the most difficult steps in the recovering process is to recognize that the problem is real and you need help.
Read more: Responsible Gambling: Tips for Players
There are many types of gambling addiction treatment. Most addicts seek help from Gamblers Anonymous. In addition to social support, the program includes psychotherapy, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, which has particularly proved its effectiveness in changing addicts’ behavior. This type of treatment helps to think positively, cope with stress and any other levers that would lead to gambling addiction relapse in usual circumstances. The essence of the method is to “reboot” the player’s brain to create a new way of thinking on addiction and desire to gamble.
Here are some examples of behavioral changes resulting from cognitive-behavioral therapy:
- looking for a hobby or any competitive sport that excites and is able to replace the emotions of gambling;
- seeking help from professionals instead of gambling to cover or disguise negative feelings, problems, or painful experiences;
- looking for new interests to keep busy and avoiding gambling if you’re bored;
- doing exercises to deal with stress instead of gambling;
- seeking help from a financial advisor, looking for additional income or other ways to solve money problems instead of gambling trying to get the same money in an easy way.
Control Your Desires
During treatment, you will learn many ways to cope with the desire to gamble. If you are receiving treatment for addiction, it is completely natural to feel this way. However, it can be very hard to resist the temptation. The following methods will help you not to snap:
- enlist the support of friends, family, Gamblers Anonymous, etc.;
- get distracted (find a hobby, go to the gym, spend more time with friends/family);
- avoid gambling (if you have an overwhelming desire to buy a lottery ticket or visit a casino, postpone this, for example, for an hour; in the course of time the desire fades);
- test yourself (think about the sensations you will experience if you start gambling again).
If you or someone you care about need medical assistance to cure ludomania, it is important to find the appropriate treatment methods e.g. Gamblers Anonymous, out-patient treatment, or in-patient treatment with round-the-clock medical supervision (if necessary).
Below you will find examples of how you can help a family member or your loved one suffering from ludomania:
- Learn About Addiction. Find out everything you can about this addiction, including the information received from Gamblers Anonymous.
- Seek Support. People suffering from ludomania are in acute need of support which can be received in various communities and treatment centers
- Control the Finances. You should take control of the gambler’s money and thus prevent him from gambling.
- Consider Future Financial Needs. You make a commitment to limit amounts of money given to the recovering gambler, and resist his manipulations and persuasions aimed at luring extra money.
Expert Opinion and Research Results
Many scientists have conducted their own research aimed at identifying problems associated with gambling. The British contributed a lot to this activity.
For example, Dr. Heather Wardle, an independent consultant of the Gambling Commission (UK), who worked on behalf of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), conducted a research study entitled “Measuring Gambling-Related Harms: A Guide to Action”. After the analysis, the expert concluded that harmful gambling had become a global phenomenon.
Relevant studies were also conducted by the representatives of Lancaster University Management School and the University of Sheffield Management School. They conducted a survey of 10 thousand British adults. The results showed that people with gambling addiction feel unhappy and would like to get rid of it.
Projects Aimed at Helping Gamblers
Currently, there are many projects aimed at helping people with gambling addiction.
One of them is called “International Problem Gambling”. It is aimed at helping gamblers from different countries (France, Germany, Australia, and others), providing them with psychological assistance, including the option of calling a hotline.
In Russia, there are also several anti-gambling organizations. One of them is called “Gamblers Anonymous of Moscow”.
Many projects aimed at helping gamblers offer different tests to identify signs of gambling addiction.
As mentioned earlier, the United Kingdom decided to extend its gambling helpline’s operation hours to the 24/7 format.