It’s a common myth that people have to gamble daily in order to have a gambling problem. In reality, many problem gamblers do so infrequently. Some people believe that gambling isn’t a problem if the person can afford it. However, losing money a person can’t afford to lose isn’t the only problem that compulsive gambling can cause. It can destroy marriages, family relationships, and important friendships. Others believe the myth partners of problem gamblers “drive them to gamble excessively.”
Signs of a gambling addiction may include:
- Preoccupation with gambling (reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture or thinking of ways in which to gamble) thinking of ways to secure money to finance gambling
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired pleasure or level of excitement
- Repeatedly but unsuccessfully trying to control, cut down or stop gambling
- Feeling restless, uneasy or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
- Gambling to escape problems or bad moods (helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)
- Returning to gambling after losing money in an effort to recoup losses
- Lying to conceal the extent of gambling
- Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of gambling
- Relying on others for money to resolve dire financial situations that are the result of gambling.
- Escaping to other excesses (alcohol, drugs, sleep, etc.)
- Denying there is a problem
- Increasing the frequency of gambling
- Gambling for longer periods of time than originally planned
- Bragging about wins, but not talking about losses
- Frequently being absent from home or work
- Withdrawing from family life or non-gambling social life
- Committing illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance gambling
The more of these signs of gambling addiction that apply, the greater the chance that gambling has become a problem. It’s important to realize that problem gambling can affect anyone.
However, blaming others is a common way for gamblers to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. Partners, friends, or family relatives sometimes think that they can help the gambler by bailing them out of debt. In reality, this can actually make matters worse by enabling the gambler to continue gambling instead of facing the problem.
If you or a loved one have a problem with gambling, help is available at the non-profit St. Jude Retreats. St. Jude’s is a Cognitive Behavioral Education program that helps people learn how to live a fulfilling life free of gambling problems. This doesn’t mean that they can never gamble, but that they can live free of gambling problems.
St. Jude accepts the scientific fact that compulsive gambling isn’t a disease and that trying to treat it as one doesn’t work. Traditional programs tell people that they suffer from a disease of addiction, that they are powerless over it, that they will always be gambling addicts, that they can never gamble again for the rest of their lives, and that they must continue being treated.
Compulsive gambling is a behavior can be effectively changed through the Saint Jude Retreats Program.