It is mainly men who cannot stop gambling, but many women also find themselves unable to quit gambling. In this article, we will call the gambler “he” but it could just as easily read “she.”
1. Preoccupied With Gambling
The gambler who cannot put a stop to gambling will walk, talk and breathe gambling. He will tell stories of previous big wins, often exaggerating the size of the jackpot. He will regularly corner others, telling anybody who will listen about his latest scheme, or his unbeatable strategy. He will usually use more than one form of gambling, being unable to stop gambling online, at the track, or on the pokies. Even bingo and the lottery hold him spell-bound. He loses interest in his normal activities and hobbies, instead becoming increasingly obsessed with gambling.
2. More And More
Just as a drug addict needs an ever increasing supply of drugs to achieve the same high, so a gambling addict finds himself betting more and more – not for greater winnings, but to obtain the same kick and level of excitement as before.
3. Can’t Stop
Even if he wanted to, the problem gambler is powerless to quit gambling. He becomes impatient and irritable when trying to even cut back. For the gambler, betting is a method of escaping problems or relieving stress.
4. The Cover-Up
The gambler lies to family and friends – and sometimes even to himself -about the amount being gambled in order to hide his dependency. At the same time, he brags and exaggerates the size of winnings. When confronted, he denies having a problem at all, and he becomes angry if the subject is pursued. The lies become a way of life. He withdraws from family and friends, and even lies about his whereabouts while gambling.
The gambler will start relying on others to bail him out of financial crises. He regularly borrows from family and friends until their good will has been used up and they refuse to lend him any more money – at least until he repays what he already owes them. Then, mortgages and loans are refinanced. Bills remain unpaid. Life assurance is cashed in. The gambler may even start committing frauds and thefts to finance his gambling addiction.
6. Self Destructive
The gambler’s career is jeopardised, and relationships with family and friends becomes eroded as his obsession with gambling escalates. He feels a tremendous amount of shame and guilt after gambling the grocery money yet again and he will consider, or even attempt, suicide because he feels so helpless and useless.
7. Losing Control
The gambler’s personality gradually changes. He can become controlling of those around him because he himself is out of control. He can be bad-tempered, contrary, fault-finding and manipulative. He blames everyone else for his financial problems, refusing to take responsibility for his own actions.
8. No Sense Of Time
The problem gambler tends to gamble during times of celebration and special events. He spends his time gambling while on holiday to relax, and during times of crisis to make himself feel better. Inevitably, he spends more time gambling than he originally planned.
How Can We Help?
Friends and relatives must stop enabling him to keep gambling by refusing to give him more money, or to bail him out of any more crises. The gambler must come to the realisation that he has a problem before he can learn how to stop gambling. He must face the consequences of his gambling. Only then will counselling and a self-help course help.
Robyn Bella James writes from personal experience, having been married to a