This is a serious and pressing problem for many gamblers today. There may be many names: gambling addiction, pathological propensity to gambling entertainment, compulsive gambling, addiction to ludomania, etc. Gamblers may call it by different names, but the essence does not change. Gambling brings more and more problems, but the person cannot stop.
Gambling can not only be fun, but it can also have an extremely negative impact on the lives of gamblers. On this page, you will find information about gambling addiction. If you suspect you have a gambling addiction, make sure you get to know it.
- Gambling addiction - definition and essence.
- The stages of development of gaming addiction.
- Symptoms and signs of addiction.
- How do I diagnose addiction in myself?
- What to do about gaming addiction?
What is a gaming addiction?
Gambling addiction is an irresistible urge to gamble. A person suffering from gambling addiction understands the need to stop and is aware of the negative consequences. But they can't stop gambling. Gambling addicts play even to their own detriment, or when they want to stop.
Gambling addiction is not always related to the amount of time in an online casino or the amount of betting. Your gambling behavior begins to affect your personal life as well as the lives of everyone around you. Nevertheless, more often than not, cheating addicts are constantly playing in casinos and betting very large amounts.
How has the term "gaming addiction" changed?
Ludomania has been known for a long time. However, it has only recently been officially recognized as a disease. The term "compulsive gambling" is still in use, as the American Psychiatric Association has long considered it a defeat control disorder.
However, in 2013, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published. In it, gaming addiction is recognized as a disease. At the same time, it has a lot in common with drug addiction. The fact is that addicted gamblers (like addicts) constantly try to stimulate the reward centres of the brain.
Recognition of gambling addiction as an illness is very important. It allows specialists to be more attentive to patients and choose the right method of treatment. You can find more information on our website in the article about treatment methods of gambling addiction.
Development and modification of a player's gambling addiction
Ludomania is a constantly changing condition. Its manifestations can change, and the stages of change are cyclical. There are two basic patterns of gambling addiction. They can help you understand how people who suffer from gambling addiction feel.
This knowledge will help each player listen to themselves, see their condition and understand how addiction affects the lives of loved ones and friends.
The three stages of gambling addiction
These stages were described by Robret Cluster in the Compulsive Gambling Scheme. You can read about the three stages of recovery in the article on gaming addiction treatment.
More often than not, addiction starts with winning. It may be big or small. But it sharply fuels interest and excitement in the player. This forms a pathological fascination with gambling.
After the first few wins the user starts playing more and more often. He dreams about very big winnings. And if at first it will be just interesting and exciting to play in an online casino, then you will start to enjoy the winnings. And this leads to the formation of addiction and obsession.
At the winnings stage, gambling is not disturbing to the players or their loved ones. They remain entertainment. More often than not, users gather in groups to play together.
The losing stage
No one plays in an online casino on an endless plus. The winning stage ends and the losing stage begins. The player begins to spend more and more time in the online casino. At the same time the game takes place in solitude. Because of the constant losses the first problems begin to appear.
It should be made clear that gambling causes problems not only because of losing money. The player's personality and attitude towards the world around him changes. Even at the stage of winning, some negative symptoms appear.
Another problem becomes the user's lack of money to play. Excessive enthusiasm for online casinos always leads to ruin in the long run. At the stage of losing, players often borrow or look for other ways to find money. Debts accumulate and it becomes more and more difficult to pay them back.
The stage of despair
This is one of the most difficult stages for the person and those around him. Gambling addiction takes its most serious form. Some players in such cases may commit crimes in order to find money to continue playing. At the same time very many people are tormented by conscience and fear. They understand the mistakes they have made and have no idea how they can go back to the way they were before.
Pathological gambling addiction starts to affect a person's work and life more and more. Many addicts are inclined to blame others for their failures and the formation of addiction. Not everyone can clearly understand their mistakes.
At the end of the despair stage, a stage begins in which players fall into a state of hopelessness. If there is no money to play, withdrawal symptoms can occur. Because of this, players sometimes start using alcohol and drugs to drown out the negative emotions. Often this behavior can lead to an emotional breakdown. Further, some of them think about suicide.
Cycles and repeatability of game addiction
The three stages of addiction happen linearly, one after the other. That is, the player gradually sinks deeper and deeper into the addiction. But at the same time addiction may not manifest itself immediately, but cyclically.
In such a case, the cycle of addiction consists of 5 stages:
- Trigger. The player encounters something that prompts him to think about the game after a long break. Such a trigger can be both internal and external. That is, either an emotion (a memory), or something seen (for example, an online casino advertising). In this case, each time the triggers may be different.
- A strong desire to play. After the trigger there is a strong desire to play online casino. Gradually it becomes stronger and stronger, and then the player can't resist and breaks away.
- Game episode. At this point a person starts to play. It does not matter whether he loses or wins.
- Further play. After the first experience of a new game, the losoman continues to play. Usually his goal is to win back or win even more.
- Stop. At some point, either money or time runs out. And then the player stops.
A player can return from the stop stage to the trigger at any time. And this happens quite often. If a person has a game addiction, the trigger will always be triggered. This can continue indefinitely. At least until the player seeks help from a specialist.
Signs of gambling addiction
Gambling should definitely be considered a problem if a player wants to stop, but cannot do so and continues to play. In this case, pathological addiction negatively affects all aspects of a person's life.
Here we list the main categories of symptoms. These will be discussed below.
- The desire to stop and conscience problems after the game.
- Financial problems.
- Time allocation disorders.
- Trouble at work.
- Social issues.
- Mental and physical health issues.
Problems of conscience and the desire to stop
Some addicted gamblers understand that the addiction is harming them and want to stop. But this desire is too weak to allow it to stop. This symptom is often accompanied by another sign - remorse. Players realize that they made a mistake, lost money and got more problems. Feelings of guilt and unhappiness emerge.
The fact that players return to games that make them miserable is a sure sign of gaming addiction.
Large losses are another common sign of addiction. It's obvious. But the consequences of such problems can be much more serious. In the early stages, players want to win. They dream of jackpots or permanent earnings at an online casino. These are destructive illusions.
The fact is that a player cannot win in the long run, even at the best casino sites. Players are always in a losing position. One-time winnings help to get hooked on gambling even more. As a result, addicts are trying to win back until they lose all they have. And the desire to return lost money does not disappear.
As a result, players start cutting back on spending on themselves and their families. Right up to the abandonment of basic necessities. At some point addicts stop paying for housing, buying food, etc. Everything goes to deposits in online casinos.
Another sign is the necessity to increase the bets all the time in order to maintain the desired level of excitement. If the previous bets do not bring you pleasure, then it is necessary to listen to your condition.
Then gamblers try to borrow money from relatives and friends in order to get even. In a completely hopeless situation, they may even commit a crime.
Problems with time allocation
Once a gambling addiction starts to develop, it consumes more and more of the player's time. Pathological gambling addiction leads to losing everything.
A less noticeable sign is a steady increase in the amount of time you spend playing sessions. This happens when you spend more time playing than usual. As a result, you don't have time for work, family and hobbies. Avid gamblers don't pay attention to anything but gambling. Moreover, for them, online casino becomes a way of escaping from reality and accumulated problems.
Difficulties with work
No matter what kind of person works as a gambling addict, his professional qualities will be negatively influenced by this addiction. At first, it is banal because of wrong time allocation. Another negative point: the loss of concentration. If you think only about gambling, you can not concentrate on work.
Very often addicted players lose interest and ambition at work. Gradually they stop caring about anything other than a minimum income to keep playing.
Communication problems and other social symptoms
As the addiction develops, the person loses their connection with friends, loved ones and others. It is possible to re-establish relationships, but the longer the player does not fight their illness, the more difficult it will be to do so.
Another negative consequence of addiction is the loss of credibility and reputation in general. When people around you find out about your problem, they will stop trusting you and change their attitude toward you. Another symptom that comes out of this is that addicts lie about having a problem. On the one hand, they are ashamed to admit it; on the other hand, they are afraid of losing access to the money they need to keep gambling.
Mental and health problems
Ludomania is a behavioural addiction. Most of the symptoms are related to a person's mental state. In addition to those mentioned above, there are several other signs.
- One of them is fear. It appears immediately after losing all the available money. Since fear is a very strong emotion, it is dangerous for the player. Because of this feeling, the addict may perform quite irrational actions.
- Irritability is another sign. Gamblers don't like it when someone talks to them about their addiction or gambling in general. Therefore, they become irritated if this happens. Overall, this only hinders the fight against gambling addiction.
- Sleep disturbance manifests itself due to anxiety and irritability. An addicted gambler becomes restless, often does not sleep at night and thinks only about online casinos. This reduces the general level of health and well-being.
- When a person reaches the bottom of the game from which he no longer sees any way out, he falls into despair. If he has already lost loved ones and friends, money and even possessions, suicidal thoughts may arise.
- The person is trying to find a way out in the usual way, but there is no such "escape. The addict tries to find a way out in the usual way, but there is no such "salvation". Therefore, addicted gamblers often lose interest in life and in themselves. That is why it is very important not to allow yourself to develop the disease.
Depression and anxiety can be another common example. They occur in the background of other worries and can lead to very serious problems. It is therefore essential that you begin to deal with addiction at the first suspicion of it.
How do I diagnose addiction in myself?
Finding out if you have a gambling addiction is very important. The earlier you detect it, the easier you can deal with it. There are some basic methods of diagnosis:
- Gamblers Anonymous questionnaire.
- The method from the DSM-5.
- Other ways.
Gamblers Anonymous questionnaire
This is a questionnaire created by one of the largest organizations helping gamblers with addiction. "Gamblers Anonymous works all over the world.
To pass the questionnaire, you need to answer 20 yes or no questions.
- Have you ever missed work or school to gamble?
- Have you ever felt unhappy in your personal life because of gambling?
- Did your gambling addiction ruin your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Have you ever gambled to pay back debts or solve other financial problems?
- Have you become less ambitious and efficient because of gambling?
- After the loss, did you want to come back as soon as possible and win back?
- After winning, did you want to go back and win even more?
- Did you gamble a lot until you lost all your money?
- Have you ever had to borrow money to gamble?
- Have you ever had to sell any of your possessions because you had nothing to gamble on?
- Have you ever felt bad about spending "gambling money" to buy necessary items and groceries?
- Have you become neglectful of your own or your family's well-being because of gambling?
- Have you ever gambled longer than you planned?
- Have you ever gambled to forget your worries, problems, boredom, loneliness, grief or loss?
- Have you ever committed or considered committing a crime because you didn't have the money to gamble?
- Have you ever had trouble sleeping because of gambling?
- Do you get the urge to gamble when you are involved in arguments, frustrated or upset?
- Have you ever had the desire to celebrate any joyous occasion with a few hours of gambling?
- Have you ever considered hurting yourself or committing suicide because of gambling?
This questionnaire is available on the organization's website. According to Gamblers Anonymous, cheaters respond positively to 7 or more of the 20 questions. This questionnaire can help identify signs of addiction, but is not a substitute for professional help.
It is the most common official method. It is described in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. What criteria are used?
A persistent and regular intrinsic need to gamble. In this case, the player exhibits 4 or more clinically significant signs within a year:
- The desire to increase the stakes for more fun.
- Irritability and restlessness when trying to stop or reduce play time.
- Constant and unsuccessful attempts to control yourself or quit the game.
- Constant thoughts of gambling and inability to focus on anything else.
- Feeling overwhelmed (may be complemented by anxiety, depression, helplessness and guilt).
- Trying to bounce back a few days after losing.
- Lying and trying to hide your addiction.
- Problems in relationships with loved ones, at work, etc.
- Shifting blame to other people for lack of money.
How do you determine your level of addiction? If you have at least 4 of these signs, you are already addicted. There can be three degrees of severity:
- Mild (4-5 signs).
- Medium (6-7 signs).
- Severe (8-9 signs).
The DSM-5 can also distinguish between episodic and persistent addiction.
- Persistent addiction. In this case, the symptoms persist for several years.
- Episodic dependence. The player meets some criteria, they appear more than once. But they occur periodically (once every few months).
Also, addiction can go into remission. There are two types according to the DSM-5:
- Early remission. None of the signs of addiction manifests themselves from 3 months to 1 year.
- Sustained remission. None of the signs of addiction does not manifest itself more than 1 year.
IMPORTANT: The DSM-5 diagnosis is done by specialists with specialized training. You can use it to check yourself, but you must get professional help afterwards.
Other diagnostic methods
There are other options for self-diagnosis for gambling addiction. To do this, you can visit the websites of organizations involved in helping gamblers. For example, these could be Gambling Therapy, GamCare or GamleAware.
H2: What to do if you're a gamer?
There are a range of techniques, methods and ready-made solutions that can help combat gambling addiction. You can use telephone hotlines, support groups, specialist services and rehabilitation centres.
The main condition is to understand and accept the addiction and start fighting it as early as possible. The worst thing you can do is to do nothing.
You can find out how to work on yourself if you have a gambling addiction on our website. To do this, visit our Gambling Addiction Treatment page.