There are two general categories of gambling disorders. The first, known as gambling addiction, compulsive gambling, or pathological gambling, is characterized by the inability to control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative impacts on the gambler or their loved ones. In contrast, problem gambling is defined as any gambling behavior that disrupts life. You need to be a regular gambler to suffer from a gambling disorder, and even infrequent gamblers may have an issue.
Gambling addiction can be financially and socially devastating to sufferers. Approximately 2.6% of Americans are estimated to suffer from problem gambling. With the proliferation of mobile devices and app-based gaming placing gambling opportunities in your pocket, gambling disorders are more challenging to control than ever. Fortunately, help is available.
The following are among the signs of problem gambling:
- Feeling the need to hide the amount of gambling
- Struggling to control gambling; an inability to walk away from gambling
- Gambling beyond one’s financial means
- Family and friends worry about the gambling behavior
- Stealing to finance gambling
Gambling disorders can have collateral impacts beyond the obvious financial burden of gambling. For example, while gambling does not take the same physical toll as substance abuse disorders, there is a high rate of suicide among problem gamblers, as the adverse social and financial consequences of problem gambling mount and begin to impact the gambler’s self-esteem. Therefore, it is important to the gambler’s physical, as well as financial, health to seek help to curb problem gambling.
Gambling addiction is often combined with other disorders, such as substance abuse, ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Therefore, professional help for gambling disorders often focuses not just on the gambling behavior but seeks to address the root causes of the gambling behavior.
Nancy Hilsenrath can work with you to develop strategies for coping with your addiction while identifying and addressing the root causes for gambling.
There are many reasons that people gamble, including thrill seeking, a social outlet, and to escape one’s other problems in life, including (ironically) financial problems. Everyone’s addiction is unique, and a tailored approach to your problem and its underlying causes can provide you with the best chance at lasting recovery.
If you have a loved one who has developed significant debt as a result of gambling, helping to pay off their debts may seem like the best way to help. However, without addressing the problem and its root causes, simply paying off a problem gambler’s debt may only enable the gambler, exacerbating the problem. In addition to the gambler themselves, therapy can assist the partners of problem gamblers in managing the problem and developing coping strategies to mitigate both the behavior and its effects.
Like with all addictions, the first step to taking control is admitting that there is a problem and confronting it.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a gambling addiction, Nancy Hilsenrath can help set you on the path to recovery.
(718) 551-2777 EMAIL NANCY TODAY
Gambling addiction counseling for Long Island and Queens, New York residents.
COUNSELING LOCATIONS: West Hempstead, NY, Douglaston, NY, Hewlett, NY