The South Suburban Council is a licensed and accredited Gambling Disorder Treatment Provider with dedicated Professional Certified Gambling Counselors.
The Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (IDHS/SUPR) is pleased to welcome our newest Dedicated Gambling Program award recipients. We congratulate these organizations and welcome them to the current group of dedicated gambling programs that assist IDHS/SUPR with the expansion of outreach and treatment services for people who suffer from gambling disorders.
New Dedicated Gambling Programs Across the State
Organizations providing treatment and community outreach services:
The South Suburban Council, Inc. (Cook, DuPage, Will, Grundy and Kankakee Counties)
Community Outreach For Gambling Disorder and Problem Gambling:
The need for community education is becoming increasingly important as funding for treatment services declines. Community education is an integral component of The Council’s goal to meet the needs of those with a gambling problem. The more knowledge available about the dangers of gambling and of treatment services available, the healthier our community will be.
The goal of The Council’s community education program is to equip all community members with knowledge necessary to make sound decisions regarding their gambling issues. Equating knowledge for power, we believe that this service is a powerful tool in dissuading people from misusing/abusing gambling and in assuring individuals that services are available for them.
The Council works closely with local businesses, schools, agencies and community members to determine areas of concern. When needs are established, focused presentations are developed and delivered to raise community awareness.
Networking relationships are another key to success. Through newsletters and participation in community coalitions, The Council is able to stay abreast of available services that may be of use to our patients. All of this at no cost to our communities.
www.weknowthefeeling.org or 1-800-GAMBLER or TEXT ILGAMB to 53342
The South Suburban Council fully supports those who may be experiencing trouble with gambling. We are an addiction treatment facility.
The South Suburban Council Offers The Following For Gambling Disorders:
- Biosocial Gambling Screening (BBGS) Questionnaire
- Gambling Disorder Diagnostic Criteria (DSM-V)
- Diagnostic Assessment Criteria Supplement – Gambling Disorder
- Multidimensional Risk Assessment – Gambling Disorder
- Level of Care Determination Grid for Gambling Disorders
- Gambling Disorder Summary/RECS
- Recovery Coach – free guidance and therapy
- Professional Certified Gambling Counselors
- Community Outreach – would you like us to give a presentation? A FREE service for our Communities!
- Outpatient and Residential Treatment
Helpful Phone Numbers
Helpful Web Sites
Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling
Are you or a loved one dealing with a gambling problem? Explore the warning signs and symptoms and learn how to stop.
What is gambling addiction and problem gambling?
Gambling problems can happen to anyone from any walk of life. Your gambling goes from a fun, harmless diversion to an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences. Whether you bet on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker, or slots—in a casino, at the track, or online—a gambling problem can strain your relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial disaster. You may even do things you never thought you would, like running up huge debts or even stealing money to gamble.
Gambling addiction—also known as pathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder—is an impulse-control disorder. If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones. You’ll gamble whether you’re up or down, broke or flush, and you’ll keep gambling regardless of the consequences—even when you know that the odds are against you or you can’t afford to lose.
Of course, you can also have a gambling problem without being totally out of control. Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts your life. If you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences in your life, you have a gambling problem.
A gambling addiction or problem is often associated with other behavior or mood disorders. Many problem gamblers also suffer with substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. To overcome your gambling problems, you’ll also need to address these and any other underlying causes as well.
Although it may feel like you’re powerless to stop gambling, there are plenty of things you can do to overcome the problem, repair your relationships and finances, and finally regain control of your life.
The first step is to separate the myths from the facts about gambling problems:
|Myths & Facts about Gambling Problems|
|Myth: You have to gamble every day to be a problem gambler.Fact: A problem gambler may gamble frequently or infrequently. Gambling is a problem if it causes problems.|
|Myth: Problem gambling is not really a problem if the gambler can afford it.Fact: Problems caused by excessive gambling are not just financial. Too much time spent on gambling can also lead to relationship and legal problems, job loss, mental health problems including depression and anxiety, and even suicide.|
|Myth: Having a gambling problem is just a case of being weak-willed, irresponsible, or unintelligent.Fact: Gambling problems affect people of all levels of intelligence and all backgrounds. Previously responsible and strong-willed people are just as likely to develop a gambling problem as anyone else.|
|Myth: Partners of problem gamblers often drive their loved ones to gamble.Fact: Problem gamblers often try to rationalize their behavior. Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, including what is needed to overcome the problem.|
|Myth: If a problem gambler builds up a debt, you should help them take care of it.Fact: Quick fix solutions may appear to be the right thing to do. However, bailing the gambler out of debt may actually make matters worse by enabling their gambling problems to continue.|
Gambling addiction signs and symptoms
Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as a “hidden illness” because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like there are in drug or alcohol addiction. Problem gamblers also typically deny or minimize the problem—even to themselves. However, you may have a gambling problem if you:
Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling. You might gamble in secret or lie about how much you gamble, feeling others won’t understand or that you will surprise them with a big win.
Have trouble controlling your gambling. Once you start gambling, can you walk away? Or are you compelled to gamble until you’ve spent your last dollar, upping your bets in a bid to win lost money back?
Gamble even when you don’t have the money. You may gamble until you’ve spent your last dollar, and then move on to money you don’t have—money to pay bills, credit cards, or things for your children. You may feel pushed to borrow, sell, or even steal things for gambling money.
Have family and friends worried about you. Denial keeps problem gambling going. If friends and family are worried, listen to them carefully. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Many older gamblers are reluctant to reach out to their adult children if they’ve gambled away their inheritance, but it’s never too late to make changes for the better.
Self-help for gambling problems
The biggest step to overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way. Don’t despair, and don’t try to go it alone. Many others have been in your shoes and have been able to break the habit and rebuild their lives. You can, too.
Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways. Do you gamble when you’re lonely or bored? Or after a stressful day at work or following an argument with your spouse? Gambling may be a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, unwind, or socialize. But there are healthier and more effective ways of managing your moods and relieving boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Strengthen your support network. It’s tough to battle any addiction without support, so reach out to friends and family. If your support network is limited, there are ways to make new friends without relying on visiting casinos or gambling online. Try reaching out to colleagues at work, joining a sports team or book club, enrolling in an education class, or volunteering for a good cause.
Join a peer support group. Gamblers Anonymous, for example, is a twelve-step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. A key part of the program is finding a sponsor, a former gambler who has experience remaining free from addiction and can provide you invaluable guidance and support.
Seek help for underlying mood disorders. Depression, stress, substance abuse, or anxiety can both trigger gambling problems and be made worse by compulsive gambling. Even when gambling is no longer a part of your life, these problems will still remain, so it’s important to address them.
How to stop gambling for good
For many problem gamblers, it’s not quitting gambling that’s the biggest challenge, but rather staying in recovery—making a permanent commitment to stay away from gambling. The Internet has made gambling far more accessible and, therefore, harder for recovering addicts to avoid relapse. Online casinos and bookmakers are open all day, every day for anyone with a smartphone or access to a computer. But maintaining recovery from gambling addiction or problem gambling is still possible if you surround yourself with people to whom you’re accountable, avoid tempting environments and websites, give up control of your finances (at least at first), and find healthier activities to replace gambling in your life.
Making healthier choices
One way to stop gambling is to remove the elements necessary for gambling to occur in your life and replace them with healthier choices. The four elements needed for gambling to continue are:
A decision: For gambling to happen, you need to make the decision to gamble. If you have an urge: stop what you are doing and call someone, think about the consequences to your actions, tellyourself to stop thinking about gambling, and find something else to do immediately.
Money: Gambling cannot occur without money. Get rid of your credit cards, let someone else be in charge of your money, have the bank make automatic payments for you, close online betting accounts, and keep only a limited amount of cash on you.
Time: Even online gambling cannot occur if you don’t have the time. Schedule enjoyable recreational time for yourself that has nothing to do with gambling. If you’re gambling on your smartphone, find other ways to fill the quiet moments during your day.
A game: Without a game or activity to bet on there is no opportunity to gamble. Don’t put yourself in tempting environments. Tell gambling establishments you frequent that you have a gambling problem and ask them to restrict you from entering. Remove gambling apps and block gambling sites on your smartphone and computer.
Finding alternatives to gambling
Maintaining recovery from gambling addiction depends a lot on finding alternative behaviors you can substitute for gambling. Some examples include:
|Reason for gambling||Sample substitute behaviors|
|To provide excitement, get a rush of adrenaline||Sport or a challenging hobby, such as mountain biking, rock climbing, or Go Kart racing|
|To be more social, overcome shyness or isolation||Counseling, enroll in a public speaking class, join a social group, connect with family and friends, volunteer, find new friends|
|To numb unpleasant feelings, not think about problems||Try therapy or use HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence toolkit|
|Boredom or loneliness||Find something you’re passionate about such as art, music, sports, or books and then find others with the same interests|
|To relax after a stressful day||As little as 15 minutes of daily exercise can relieve stress. Or deep breathing, meditation, or massage|
|To solve money problems||The odds are always stacked against you so it’s far better to seek help with debts from a credit counselor|
Dealing with gambling cravings
Feeling the urge to gamble is normal, but as you build healthier choices and a strong support network, resisting cravings will become easier. When a gambling craving strikes:
Avoid isolation. Call a trusted family member, meet a friend for coffee, or go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.
Postpone gambling. Tell yourself that you’ll wait 5 minutes, fifteen minutes, or an hour. As you wait, the urge to gamble may pass or become weak enough to resist.
Visualize what will happen if you give in to the urge to gamble. Think about how you’ll feel after all your money is gone and you’ve disappointed yourself and your family again.
Distract yourself with another activity, such as going to the gym, watching a movie, or practicing a relaxation exercise for gambling cravings.
Coping with lapses
If you aren’t able to resist the gambling craving, don’t be too hard on yourself or use it as an excuse to give up. Overcoming a gambling addiction is a tough process. You may slip from time to time; the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and continue working towards recovery.
Gambling addiction treatment
Overcoming a gambling problem is never easy and seeking professional treatment doesn’t mean that you’re weak in some way or can’t handle your problems. But it’s important to remember that every gambler is unique so you need a recovery program tailored specifically to your needs and situation. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about different treatment options, including:
Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These are aimed at those with severe gambling addiction who are unable to avoid gambling without round-the-clock support.
Treatment for underlying conditions contributing to your compulsive gambling, including substance abuse or mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or ADHD. This could include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Problem gambling can sometimes be a symptom of bipolar disorder, so your doctor or therapist may need to rule this out before making a diagnosis.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT for gambling addiction focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as rationalizations and false beliefs. It can also teach you how to fight gambling urges and solve financial, work, and relationship problems caused by problem gambling. Therapycan provide you with the tools for coping with your addiction that will last a lifetime.
Family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling. These can help you work through the specific issues that have been created by your problem gambling and lay the foundation for repairing your relationships and finances.
How to help someone stop gambling
If your loved one has a gambling problem, you likely have many conflicting emotions. You may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep your loved one from gambling or having to cover for them. At the same time, you might be furious at your loved one for gambling again and tired of trying to keep up the charade. Your loved one may have borrowed or even stolen money with no way to pay it back. They may have sold family possessions or run up huge debts on joint credit cards.
While compulsive and problem gamblers need the support of their family and friends to help them in their struggle to stop gambling, the decision to quit has to be theirs. As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is seeing the effects, you cannot make someone stop gambling. However, you can encourage them to seek help, support them in their efforts, protect yourself, and take any talk of suicide seriously.
Preventing suicide in problem gamblers
When faced with the consequences of their actions, problem gamblers can suffer a crushing drop in self-esteem. This is one reason why there is a high rate of suicide among compulsive gamblers. If you suspect your loved one is feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Befrienders Worldwide to find a suicide helpline in your country.
Four tips for family members:
- Start by helping yourself. You have a right to protect yourself emotionally and financially. Don’t blame yourself for the gambler’s problems or let his or her addiction dominate your life. Ignoring your own needs can be a recipe for burnout.
- Don’t go it alone. It can feel so overwhelming coping with a loved one’s gambling addiction that it may seem easier to rationalize their requests “this one last time.” Or you might feel ashamed, feeling like you are the only one who has problems like this. Reaching out for support will make you realize that many families have struggled with this problem.
- Set boundaries in managing money. To ensure the gambler stays accountable and to prevent relapse, consider taking over the family finances. However, this does not mean you are responsible for micromanaging the problem gambler’s impulses to gamble. Your first responsibilities are to ensure that your own finances and credit are not at risk.
- Consider how you will handle requests for money. Problem gamblers often become very good at asking for money, either directly or indirectly. They may use pleading, manipulation, or even threats to get it. It takes practice to ensure you are not enabling your loved one’s gambling addiction.
|Do’s and Don’ts for partners of problem gamblers|
|Source: Dept. of Health & Addiction Services|
Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson. Last updated: June 2019.
Dealing with Debt – USA.GOV/Debt
Learn about common debt problems, including filing for bankruptcy.
Credit counseling services provide resources to help solve your money problems. Counselors discuss your entire financial situation and help you develop a personalized plan. They can assist you with starting a budget. And they can help you find educational programs on money management.
Credit Counseling Service Locations
You can find free or low-cost credit counseling options at:
- Credit unions
- Extension offices
- Religious organizations
- Nonprofit agencies
It’s important that your credit counseling service be accredited by either of these organizations:
Military Service Members
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) assists active-duty military with financial burdens. Under this act, you may qualify for a reduced interest rate on mortgages and credit card debts. It can offer protection from eviction. It can also delay civil court including bankruptcy, foreclosure, or divorce proceedings. To find out if you qualify, contact your local Armed Forces Legal Assistance office.
File a Complaint About a Credit Counseling Service
- Submit a debt collection complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
- Contact the Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program for concerns about credit counseling agencies.
Consolidation involves rolling your various debts into one monthly payment. These debts can include credit card bills or loan payments. If you have multiple credit card accounts or loans, debt consolidation can help simplify or lower your payments. Before you consolidate, talk to a qualified credit counselor.
Debt Consolidation Options
You may be able to lower your cost of credit by consolidating your debt through a home equity loan or home equity line of credit.
- With a home equity loan, the lender advances you the total loan amount upfront.
- A home equity line of credit provides a source of funds that you can draw on as needed.
It’s important to keep in mind that these are secured loans that require you to put up your home as collateral. If you’re unable to make payments on time, you could lose your home.
To learn if debt consolidation is right for you, contact a credit counseling service accredited by one of these organizations:
File a Complaint About a Lender
If you have a problem with a lender involving debt consolidation, first contact that lender. If you can’t resolve the problem, submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
A debt collector generally is a person or company that regularly collects debts owed to others, usually when those debts are past-due. This includes collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts as part of their business, and companies that buy delinquent debts and then try to collect them. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you.
What Types of Debts Are Covered?
The Act covers personal, family, and household debts. This includes money owed on personal credit card accounts, auto loans, medical bills, and mortgages. The FDCPA does not cover debts incurred in running a business.
What Happens After a Debt Collector Contacts You?
Within five days after a debt collector first contacts you, the collector must send you a written notice that tells you the name of the creditor, how much you owe, and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money. If you owe the money or part of it, contact the creditor to arrange for payment. If you believe you do not owe the money, contact the creditor in writing and send a copy to the collection agency informing them with a letter not to contact you.
What Practices Are Off Limits for Debt Collectors?
A debt collector may not:
- Contact you at inconvenient times, for example, before 8 AM or after 9 PM, unless you agree to it.
- Communicate with you at work if you tell the debt collector your employer disapproves.
- Contact you after you send a letter to the collector telling them to stop, except to notify you if the creditor or collector plans to take a specific action.
- Communicate with your friends, relatives, employer, or others except to find out where you live or work.
- Harass you with repeated phone calls, profane language, or threats to harm you.
- Make any false claim or statement that you will be arrested.
- Threaten to have money deducted from your paycheck or to sue you, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so and it is legal.
File a Complaint About a Debt Collector
Report any problems you have with a debt collection company to your State Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your state Attorney General’s office can help you find out your rights under your state’s law.
If you’re unable to pay your creditors, filing for bankruptcy can help you get a fresh start. Bankruptcy involves liquidating, or selling off, your assets to pay your debts, or creating a payment plan. But, you should first consider other debt management options. Bankruptcy information stays on a credit report for 10 years. It can also make it difficult to get credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job.
Types of Personal Bankruptcy
Federal courts have jurisdiction over all bankruptcy laws, so you’ll file a petition in a federal bankruptcy court. There are two main types of personal bankruptcy:
- Chapter 13 allows people with a steady income to keep their property. This would include a mortgaged house or a car, that they might otherwise lose in the bankruptcy process.
- Chapter 7 is known as straight bankruptcy. It involves liquidating all assets that are not exempt under federal or state law.
File for Bankruptcy
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) established stricter rules for consumers and attorneys. To file for bankruptcy, you’ll need to:
- File documents. This includes itemized statements of monthly net income and proof of income (pay stubs) for the last 60 days. Also, you should include tax returns for the preceding year (four years for Chapter 13 bankruptcies).
- Take a pre-filing credit counseling and post-filing education course to have debts discharged. Find an approved credit counseling provider through the U.S. Trustee Program.
- Pay filing fees, plus fees for credit counseling and education
The bankruptcy and petition process is complicated, so it can be difficult to file without an attorney. Attorney fees are extra and vary.
Report Bankruptcy Fraud or Abuse
You can file a fraud report with the U.S. Trustee Program at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means that you’re willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value.
Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you have a problem with compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets that lead to losses, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.
Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives. Although treating compulsive gambling can be challenging, many people who struggle with compulsive gambling have found help through professional treatment.
Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) include:
- Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more gambling money
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
- Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
- Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
- Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
- Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses)
- Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling
- Jeopardizing or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling
- Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money
- Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away
Unlike most casual gamblers who stop when losing or set a loss limit, people with a compulsive gambling problem are compelled to keep playing to recover their money — a pattern that becomes increasingly destructive over time.
Some people with a compulsive gambling problem may have remission where they gamble less or not at all for a period of time. However, without treatment, the remission usually isn’t permanent.
When to see a doctor or mental health professional
Have family members, friends or co-workers expressed concern about your gambling? If so, listen to their worries. Because denial is almost always a feature of compulsive or addictive behavior, it may be difficult for you to realize that you have a problem.
If you recognize your own behavior from the list of signs and symptoms for compulsive gambling, seek professional help.
Exactly what causes someone to gamble compulsively isn’t well-understood. Like many problems, compulsive gambling may result from a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors.
Although most people who play cards or wager never develop a gambling problem, certain factors are more often associated with compulsive gambling:
- Mental health disorders. People who gamble compulsively often have substance abuse problems, personality disorders, depression or anxiety. Compulsive gambling may also be associated with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Age. Compulsive gambling is more common in younger and middle-aged people. Gambling during childhood or the teenage years increases the risk of developing compulsive gambling. However, compulsive gambling in the older adult population can also be a problem.
- Sex. Compulsive gambling is more common in men than women. Women who gamble typically start later in life and may become addicted more quickly. But gambling patterns among men and women have become increasingly similar.
- Family or friend influence. If your family members or friends have a gambling problem, the chances are greater that you will, too.
- Medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome. Drugs called dopamine agonists have a rare side effect that may result in compulsive behaviors, including gambling, in some people.
- Certain personality characteristics. Being highly competitive, a workaholic, impulsive, restless or easily bored may increase your risk of compulsive gambling.
Compulsive gambling can have profound and long-lasting consequences for your life, such as:
- Relationship problems
- Financial problems, including bankruptcy
- Legal problems or imprisonment
- Poor work performance or job loss
- Poor general health
- Suicide, suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts
Although there’s no proven way to prevent a gambling problem, educational programs that target individuals and groups at increased risk may be helpful.
If you have risk factors for compulsive gambling, consider avoiding gambling in any form, people who gamble and places where gambling occurs. Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent gambling from becoming worse.
Compulsive Gambling Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Gambling is one of the most insidious of human vices, as it presents the illusion of easy money yet can quickly lead to financial ruin. The odds are never in your favor whether it is poker, blackjack or anything else; gambling is a successful industry because the house always wins. Read on to find out about the symptoms, causes and effects of gambling addiction.
Are There Different Types of Gambling Addiction?
Gambling is a diverse activity, so different types of gambling addiction exist as well. It is not always obvious when someone is addicted to gambling. Contrary to popular belief, the act of gambling is not restricted to slot machines, cards and casinos. Purchasing a lottery ticket, entering a raffle or making a bet with a friend are also forms of gambling.
Gambling addiction can occur when a person feels that they are in financial ruin and can only solve their problems by gambling what little they have in an attempt to get a large sum of money. Unfortunately, this almost always leads to a cycle in which the gambler feels they must win back their losses, and the cycle goes on until the person is forced to seek rehabilitation to break their habit.
Another type of gambling addiction results when a gambler plays the games and makes risky bets to experience the emotional high associated with taking huge risks that occasionally pay off. In both cases, the person affected by this addiction must have the desire to stop the behavior, not just to please family and friends. If you, or a loved one, want to stop gambling but don’t not know where to begin, call our hotline at for the resources necessary to start the recovery process.
What Causes an Addiction to Gambling?
Many factors can contribute to a gambling addiction, including desperation for money, the desire to experience thrills and highs, the social status associated with being a successful gambler, and the entertaining atmosphere of the mainstream gambling scene. Unfortunately, once a gambling addiction takes hold, breaking the cycle is difficult. Severe addictions can take hold when someone feels desperate financially and wants to make back what they have lost. Once the person finally wins, while they may end up collecting a massive amount of money from that win, it is rarely enough to cover what has already been lost. Most gamblers never even come close to breaking even.
What Are the Signs of a Gambling Problem?
The signs of a gambling problem are often the same as the signs of other addictions. Common signs of addiction include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling
- Having trouble controlling gambling habits
- Gambling when you cannot afford to
- Your friends and family express concern about your gambling
Of course, as with any other addiction, the hallmark sign of a gambling problem is that you feel you cannot stop. If you feel like you need to try just one more time, or if you feel anxious when you think about quitting, it is highly likely you are suffering from a gambling addiction. If you think you or your loved one may be suffering from a gambling addiction, call to talk about the signs of a gambling addiction and your individual situation.
Emotional Symptoms of Excessive Gambling
Excessive gambling often causes a multitude of emotional symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and tendencies. In extreme situations, these thoughts may lead a gambler to actually making an attempt to end their life. Losing everything to gambling is devastating and leaves many people feeling completely hopeless.
Physical Symptoms of Excessive Gambling
Because gambling can cause depression, anxiety and self-harming tendencies, several physical signs are to be watched out for. Depression and anxiety sometimes lead to sleep deprivation, which may result in pale skin, weight gain or weight loss, acne and dark circles under the eyes.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of a Gambling Addiction
Gambling is associated with many additional effects, in both the short- and long-term. Gambling addiction frequently results in other addictions that serve as coping mechanisms for people who are stressed out by the activity. Many gamblers turn to drugs, alcohol and other activities to alleviate the anxiety brought on by the gambling lifestyle. Even if a gambler never experiences financial ruin as a result of the lifestyle, they may struggle with drug and alcohol addiction for the rest of life after self-medicating to deal with the stress. Also, relationships are often permanently damaged as a result of gambling.
Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?
If you think you may have a gambling problem, ask yourself whether you would be okay if you stopped gambling right now. If you feel anxious or as if you shouldn’t stop yet, chances are you are suffering from a gambling addiction. However, if you are not sure, call our hotline any time at to speak with someone who can help you assess whether or not you have a problem and need help to recover.
Medication: Are There Drug Options for Gambling Disorders?
While gambling cannot be directly treated with medication, it is possible to alleviate the anxiety and depression that results from gambling and often lead to it in the first place. If you have any questions about medication options and treatment for your gambling addiction, call us at .
Drugs: Possible Options
The most common way to treat a gambling problem with medication is to prescribe anti-anxiety and antidepressant medicines. Feeling depressed and anxious often exacerbates gambling addiction, so treating these disorders may make it easier to break the cycle and get back to a normal life.
Medication Side Effects
As with just about any medication, certain side effects are associated with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. Some of these medications may make you feel worse before you feel better. For detailed information on the side effects of various depression and anxiety medications, consult your psychiatrist, or call our hotline at for advice. Remember, you should never try to self-medicate for anxiety or depression. These disorders are serious, and self-medication can be extremely dangerous.
Antidepressant Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal in Gamblers
While anxiety and depression medications are often highly successful helpers on the path to recovery, it is possible to become addicted to these medications as well. For this reason, it is often a good idea to enroll in an inpatient treatment center while you recover from your addiction, so a trained team of professionals can monitor you for dependence and withdrawal symptoms related to your medications.
One of the major problems associated with medications is that many of them do provide a high if you take more than the prescribed amount. Many gamblers are looking for that high, so prescription drug abuse is rampant among gamblers who are in the process of recovery and feel the need to get that high from something else. Overdose is one of many risks associated with substance abuse, and it is one of the reasons inpatient treatment centers are always recommended for anyone recovering from an addiction to gambling.
Depression and Gambling
Because gambling addiction is often associated with depression, watch out for signs that you are, or your loved one is, suffering from this debilitating disorder. Lethargy, fatigue, change in appetite and unhappiness are several symptoms out of many that someone is suffering from depression. Depression is often not something that can be controlled easily. If you suspect you or your loved one is suffering from depression, call us at .
Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Gambling
A dual diagnosis means that someone who is suffering from an addiction to substances or gambling is diagnosed with the addiction along with a mental health disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment is needed to effectively address both issues.
Getting Help to Quit Gambling
Quitting gambling is no easy feat, but it can be done with the help of a solid support group and treatment program. It can be difficult to get started on the path to recovery without the assistance of professionals who have helped people through the process before. Supportive friends and family are vital to a full recovery, but they might not know how best to help you. For information on how to get help to quit gambling, call our hotline at 708.647.3333 .