Gambling Addiction: 7 Changes That Happen When a Gambling Problem Becomes an Obsession

What Is A Gambling Addiction?

A gambling addiction is an addiction to the behavior of gambling. Usually the life of the gambler goes out of control. When a person has a severe gambling problem, the act of gambling takes on a central role in the gamblers life, and creates major changes in many ways. Life becomes unmanageable and the act of gambling can be used to escape ones' problems in life. Gambling addiction is just as powerful as a drug or alcohol addiction and can even be more destructive. Gambling addiction creates changes in the gamblers brain and affects chemicals such as adrenaline and dopamine. The "gamblers high" is what the gambler continues to chase, and this can create an emotional, financial, and mental nightmare.

Gambling Problem as an Obsession:
When a gambling problem is an obsession, there is a strong obsession to gamble. Gambling takes precedent in the life of the gambler, and its' importance usurps that of everything else in their life. This obsession can have several consequences that are very severe, and literally ruin the life of the gambler. The obsession to gamble is very powerful because of the biochemical changes that take place in the brain of the gambler. Everything can take a backseat, as gambling becomes the most important thing in the life of those that are gambling addicted. The life of the obsessed gambler becomes totally different, and these changes manifest themselves in many ways. Below are 5 changes that can happen when a gambling problem becomes an obsession and progresses in severity.

7 Life Changes for the Gambling Addicted:

1. The Gambling Addict Becomes Socially Isolated: Social isolation is very common for a person with a gambling problem. Usually the gambler isolates from friends and family in their quest for their gambling high. An addicted gambler can lose friends easily, and perhaps only stay friends with those that also gamble. A person with a gambling problem may miss family events, stop going to church, and stop any other social activities that do not relate to gambling.

2. The Addicted Gambler Becomes Depressed and Anxious: Depression and anxiety is very common in the life of the gambler. When one is addicted to gambling, mood changes are quite common. The gambler inherently knows that he or she is harming themselves and they see their lives falling apart before their eyes. Even while being in the state of denial, a person with a gambling problem knows on a core level that he or she is doing a lot of self harm. Heavy financial losses, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, occupational problems, and family breakdown can all contribute to an anxious and depressed mood.

3. Problem Gambling Creates Self Neglect: When a person has a gambling addiction, this problem contributes to extreme self neglect. Failure to visit the doctor, poor sleeping and nutrition, and overall lack of self care will become quite evident. Addictive gambling can leave the gambler so obsessed with gambling that they will neglect their appearance. The addicted gambler may look sloppy, unkempt, and may not buy any new clothes. Lack of grooming may be apparent because this is really not important to the compulsive gambler. When gambling becomes the most important thing in a person's life, self-neglect happens automatically.

4. Addictive Gambling Results In Lack Of Productivity and Procrastination: This is not surprising. It is impossible to be creative, and productive, and get things done when gambling becomes the major focus of one's' life. Important things are procrastinated and are neglected because of problem gambling and the power it has over the gambler. Remember that the gambler is chasing a gamblers' high, just like a drug addict or an alcoholic. Everything in life goes on the back burner and is put on hold as the gambler seeks his or her high.

5. A Gambling Problem Can Create A Breakdown In The Family: This is a real tragedy for a person with a gamblers addiction, as this can result in separation, divorce, and child neglect. When someone in a family unit struggles with gambling, everyone in the family can become devastated. A parent may never be around because they are always at the casino, and the children may be left to fend for themselves. The spouse of a gambler also suffers because of the behavior of the gambler and many times divorce is inevitable.

6. Problems With Gambling Can Lead To Illegal Behavior: Stealing is not uncommon for those with a gambling disorder. Many people have gone to jail because they stole money from their employer, or even stole from other family members. Pawning jewelry and other important items with sentimental value is not uncommon as well. You may have read stories of people going to jail because of embezzling money from an employer. Because gambling addiction is so powerful, illegal behavior happens when the gamblers addiction progresses.

7. Gambling Debts from a Gambling Addiction Become Huge: This was saved for last, because the financial devastation from an untreated gambling problem cannot be understated. Gamblers debts can become very devastating and can destroy the financial life of the gambler. It can take years to recover from debt from gambling problems, and can devastate savings, retirement, and home equity. These debts can go into hundreds of thousands of dollars which can never ever be recovered. The result is gamblers bankruptcy, foreclosure, and long-term, never ending credit card debt.

These are just 7 changes that can happen in the life of someone with a compulsive gambling problem or severe gambling disorder. There are many more life changes and consequences that can happen as a result of this devastating and serious addiction.

Thankfully, there is help for those affected by a problem with gambling. Gamblers Anonymous is a 12 Step group that is self-help bases and has worked for many people throughout the world. Individual counseling, hypnosis, and self-help books for gambling addiction can also be helpful.

The most important thing is that if you or a family member has a gambling problem or severe gambling addiction, that help is sought out to stop gambling.

Michelle S. Tee is a gambling self help coach and author ( who specializes in gambling addiction and problems with gambling.

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