Gambling takes many forms from playing the lottery to betting on horses to high-stakes casino betting. Many people enjoy some form of gambling as a fun, but infrequent hobby or pastime. However, some suffer from a gambling addiction that can wreak havoc on their personal and financial lives. It is similar to a chemical dependency, and is recognized as an addiction illness, however, statistics show that it leads to more suicides than chemical dependency.
When a person suffers from a gambling addiction, there are fewer outward signs than other addictions. He or she may feel depressed and suffer mood swings, but unless their financial situation is an open book to others, their problem may be severe before anyone notices. For this reason, compulsive gambling is often referred to as a "hidden" addiction.
Unlike an average person, a person suffering from a gambling addiction does not know when to quit. They gamble more than they can afford to lose. They might gamble their rent or mortgage payment, their grocery money, or even their entire life savings.
A gambling addiction is not about the money, it is about the action itself. The thrill of the bet and the possibility of the pay out is what stimulates the "high." When they lose, the individual becomes depressed, but not just because they've lost their money. They need to recover from this depression and seek more action to do so. Though any type of gambling can create addiction, video poker and slot machines are believed to be the most addicting forms. Largely because they are solitary activities, but create the same sense of action that fuels addiction. Similarly, because they are solitary activities, it can be difficult for anyone else to notice when there is a problem.
Signs that a person may be addicted to gambling include depression, mood swings, and suicidal thoughts or tendencies. These emotional signs coupled with an inability to pay bills or manage money, or excessive borrowing for unknown or suspicious reasons can also be symptoms of a gambling addiction. People suffering from this condition need to seek help from both a health professional and a financial counselor. They need to address the mental aspects of their addiction as well as recover from the financial strain they've created for themselves. Treatment typically involves heavy intervention from friends or family members as well.