Online gambling addiction is a serious problem that can cause a lot of damage, although the problem can often go unnoticed by the gambler and those who are close to them.
What is Online Gambling?
Online gambling is playing any type of game online that involves wagering money. This includes poker, blackjack, slots machines, and sports betting. These games can be played against other real players, or against the computer. In order to spend or earn money, you will have to link a payment method.
Online gambling has become a growing concern in recent years, and it is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. It's easy to get hooked on, and there are many different types and levels of gambling that are available.
Online Gambling vs. Traditional Gambling
With online gambling, users are bombarded with “free play” offers across websites and social media. It’s easy to get hooked off of these offers, and in most cases, players will continue to gamble after they have used up their free credit. After a person has finished gambling, the websites will often target the gambler with more ads and offers to keep them coming back.
Online gambling is easier to hide, since you don’t even have to leave your house in order to gamble, making it easier for the gambler to do so without being detected or reprimanded by their family or friends.
It is also easier to spend money in online games, since you are not physically putting money in a machine. The amount of money spent doesn’t feel as real when there is no physical exchange of money.
Why is Online Gambling Addictive?
For many people, gambling is a fun and exciting way to spend their free time. But for some, gambling can become an addiction that can take over their lives. The danger of online gambling is that it can be conducted in private, at any time and location - all that’s needed is a credit card.
Gambling can serve as a temporary distraction from difficult emotions and mental health problems. It’s also a way to pass the time and avoid boredom.
Just like with alcohol or substances, you will build up a tolerance to gambling over time, and will have to take bigger financial risks in order to get a rush of dopamine. However, it’s important to note that gamblers are not addicted to winning money - they are addicted to the act of gambling. This is why people continue to gamble, even when they are losing.
5 Ways to Tell if You're Addicted to Online Gambling
Online gambling can be an easy addiction to hide from others, and you could even be in denial about having a problem yourself. Here are a few warning signs that you’re getting addicted to online gambling.
- Gambling more than you can afford to lose. A person who gambles responsibly is able to set a spending limit and stick to it. If you are unable to do that, it’s a sign that you are developing a gambling addiction.
- Being secretive about gambling. Hiding your gambling from friends and family members to keep them from finding out is a sign that you even believe to an extent that the amount of time and money you are spending on gambling is a problem.
- Continuing to gamble despite serious consequences. Gambling may be negatively affecting your work life or your personal relationships, or causing you financial ruin. This can lead to feelings of desperation and result in chasing your losses in an attempt to win back the money you’ve lost so that you can repair some of the damage that gambling has done.
- Needing to gamble in order to cope. You don’t feel relief from stress, anxiety, or depression until you are gambling, and are always looking for your next opportunity to gamble.
- Experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms when not gambling. Those who are addicted to gambling can experience withdrawal symptoms, similar to those who have a substance use disorder.
Symptoms may include:
- Irritability and mood swings
- Muscle aches
How Can You Help Someone With a Gambling Addiction?
When someone is addicted to online gambling, it can be a very difficult situation. It's important to talk to them in a way that is non-judgemental, and offer to help them get the support they need as soon as possible. This might involve providing them with resources and information on how to stop gambling or seeking professional help if necessary.
Remember that addiction to gambling is a treatable condition, and with the right treatment and support, your loved one can overcome their addiction. However, it ultimately has to be their decision to recover, and despite your best efforts, you will not be able to force them into recovery.
Treatment for Gambling Addiction
Gambing addiction is a real problem, and it's not going to go away on its own. If you or someone you know is struggling with an online gambling addiction, it's time to get help.
There are a variety of treatment options available, and each one is tailored to the unique needs of the individual. At Algamus Gambling Treatment Center, our residential treatment program consists of treatment methods including cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and 12-step programs.
We work with each of our clients to uncover the root cause of their gambling, so that they can overcome their addiction and live a healthy, happy life. If you’d like to learn more about our program and our treatment approach, contact our gambling counselors.