Everyone who gambles just wants to win money, right?
You might be surprised. For many problem gamblers, it’s the action of gambling that interests them, not the money won or lost. It’s not just the money – there are other gambling addiction causes.
Many people consider gambling as a social and entertaining activity. For those who only gamble a few times a year, the thought of winning money placed on a bet can be extremely exciting. Even small amounts of money, such as turning a $5.00 bet into $10.00, can be a satisfying visit to a gambling venue.
For problem gamblers, this is not the case. Winning – and the money that comes along with winning – does not satisfy the gambler, and it does not cause them to stop gambling. For many problem gamblers, even winning sums of money large enough to get them out of debt will not be a turning point in which they will quit gambling.
Gambling Addiction Causes: Gambling to Escape
We’ve discussed before how many problem gamblers choose to gamble to escape situations around them and feelings they have. Women in particular are known to gamble to escape, using gambling options such as slot machines and Internet gambling to pass hours at a time. People gamble to escape frustration and anger. They gamble to forget feelings of loneliness and to avoid abusive situations at home. Seniors gamble to fill the time they have now that they have retired.
For many gamblers, it’s the act of gambling that matters – not the results. It’s that point that must be understood by anyone trying to help a problem gambler they know. Too often, family members try to help problem gamblers by paying their debts, only for new debts to accumulate again. It’s not about winning (or losing) money, or even about just staying debt-free. It’s the action of gambling that is addicting.
Gambling Addiction Treatment and Support
We know that quitting gambling can be extremely hard for people, especially for those who gamble to escape bad situations or emotions. If the underlying problems are not addressed, a problem gambler may stop gambling but replace their addiction with something else, such as drugs or alcohol. To help, we must answer questions such as:
- Why do you gamble?
- What are you escaping?
- Why do you escape that?
- How can you handle these feelings and situations in a healthy, positive manner?
- Who can you talk to about why you gamble, such as a support group or counselor?
The sooner we begin to answer these questions, the sooner we can begin a recovery that’s more likely to have long-term success.
Getting Help For Problem Gambling
If you’re dealing with a gambling problem and need help, you can contact the NYS HOPEline at any time for support and guidance. Call 1-877-8-HOPENY today.
For more information about the causes, signs and consequences of problem gambling along with recovery information, check out our other posts through the KnowTheOdds blog.