Horse racing is one of my favorite pastimes. Churchill Down's Twin Spires, the paddock, and the clubhouse are a magical place. Each time I'm lucky enough to visit, I place a $2 bet on the 50 to 1 odds horse, and I gleefully watch him scamper across the finish line last. I know I'm throwing my money away, and that works for me because I don't have a gambling addition. For some it is unfortunately a crippling addiction.
Studies show that an addictive brain responds to the anticipation of wining and losing money while gambling the same way an addictive brain responds to cocaine and morphine.
Compulsive or pathological gambling is an impulse-control disorder, which means you keep gambling even when the odds are against you and you know you'll lose. Like other addictions, the first step towards healing is to determine there is a problem. According to Helpguide.org these four signs may indicate serious problem. Do you:
1. 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.
2. 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?
3. 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.
4. Have Family And Friends Worried About Your Gambling
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.*
Compulsive gambling is a hidden illness with high stakes. Is your gambling a problem? Help may be closer than you think. Consider these three resources:
- To find out if your gambling is more than a hobby, take a simple 9 question test at Helpguide.org.
- For more information on gambling, visit the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling. They offer a free monthly newsletter.
- To find an addiction professional in your area, please visit recovery guidance.com.
* Information sourced by Helpguide.org
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Pam Carver