The Steps People Usually Follow to Become Gambling Addicts

Gambling addicts, as with other types of addicts, may not become aware of the problem until they’re deep in the rabbit hole. It’s important to recognise the signs of trouble because it gives you time to do something about it. If you find the following patterns in your gambling habits, then it might be time to ask for help from somewhere like GamCare.

Step 1: noticing gambling adverts

A lot of people don’t realise that our brains pick things out of the environment that we find interesting. We’ll ignore things that we believe to have no relevance to us, but pay attention to things that we think are relevant.

It works a bit like a radar, where we’re always scanning the environment for things that are relevant to us – could be anything from a tiger lurking in a bush to someone saying your name. If your brain thinks it’s relevant, it will pay attention.

If you’re starting to notice gambling adverts, it’s a sign that you’re becoming attuned to gambling; you’re paying attention to it.

There’s been a scandal in recent years where casinos have been targeting gambling addicts, so this is even more of a reason to pay attention to whether you’re noticing gambling adverts.

Why are they piquing your interest? Why are you noticing them? It could be perfectly innocent, but at the same time, it could be that you’re falling deeper into gambling.

Step 2: the heady rush of a win makes you think you’re a gambling god

I doubt there are many people who don’t enjoy a gambling win but don’t mistake it for anything more than dumb luck. Unless you’re playing something like poker, winning is never down to skill. Even poker has a huge element of luck.

The bottom line is that no one is so amazing at gambling that they win every time. It’s not possible.

If you start thinking, “I’m really good at gambling!” then you probably need to have a word with yourself.

Step 3: because of step 2 you start chasing the rush

Yeah, no one can deny that the rush of a gambling win is great! It’s why we gamble. Hey, it’s addictive! People get addicted to it all the time. If you start thinking things like, “I’m so bored. I know! Gambling will perk me right up right now!”, that’s no bueno.

Gambling is fun, but in moderation – just like everything else in life – it’s all about moderation.

Step 4: because of step 3 you lose all your money

This is when you start to borrow money from your friends and family, even your employer. You should have tried to curb your gambling before this. Borrowing money from friends and family is a huge no-no, no matter how good you think the gamble will be.

It really is as simple as this: never borrow money to gamble. EVER.

Step 5: becoming more isolated

Now you’ve borrowed the money, and no doubt lost it, you’re feeling ashamed, so you’re hiding from people. You might not even realise that you’re isolating yourself until it’s impacting your life (2020/2021 are exceptions to this because we’ve all had to isolate, so it may be even harder to tell that you have a gambling problem).

You’re now starting to suffer the effects of joining the ranks of gambling addicts. You feel guilty for wasting money, especially the money that you’ve borrowed from other people. You start to experience anxiety and sleepless nights become the norm. What do you think will cheer you up? Oh yep, more gambling.

To sum it all up

If you recognise yourself in the above description, getting help is a great first step. We are lucky in the UK because there are plenty of resources that can help you. The first thing to do is to contact the GamCare helpline on 0808 8020 133. They will advise you on the next steps to take, e.g., contacting your bank and applying gambling limits on your cards (I’m unsure if this affects your credit score or otherwise has a financial penalty, so do check first) and self-excluding from the casinos.

A picture of someone breaking the hands out of handcuffs against a blue sky background. You can only see their arms and the cuffs, no face. They're holding their arms up in the air.