Most people look at avid gamblers and think that they just like the entertainment. However, it is just like anything else. Too much of it can literally destroy your life. I think most people are unaware of the fact that gambling can be an addiction that is very similar to a drug. The vast majority of people suffering from gambling addiction find the transition from recreational fun to addict to be very fuzzy. They do not understand exactly when it became a true problem for them. However, in this article I want to make it clear about what a gambling addiction looks like so that you can self-evaluate to see whether you have a significant problem or not.
Symptom #1: You need to be secretive
When you get to the point that you have to lie about how much you are gambling, you know that it is probably too much. Obviously, not telling people you don’t know well might be one thing, but hiding it from others who are close to you is entirely different. An addict will often lie to even people that are close to them.
Symptom #2: You are having trouble setting your boundaries
A recreational gambler can go into a casino with a $20 bill and ensure that they do not spend more than that. Someone with an addiction though will go in with the mind of only spending that $20 bill but in the end they find themselves at an ATM or using a credit card.
Symptom #3: Gambling even if you don’t have the money
Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This means that not everyone has extra money left over after they pay the bills and buy groceries. If you are using credit cards or funding your gambling with loans then you likely have a gambling issue. This is an extreme red flag that you could be addicted.
Symptom #4: Friends and family are concerned about you
Obviously the above three symptoms are subjective. Someone who is truly addicted would look at those symptoms and perhaps make excuses for themselves about why they are not truly addicted. They might believe that just because they borrowed money doesn’t mean they are addicted. Or perhaps just because they spend a little more money than they had planned every time, that’s like going to a car dealership and never buying a car. Eventually you will. This situation is quite different though! Knowing that family and friends are concerned is a good indication that they have seen that you gamble to much to be considered just a recreational gambler.
The biggest concern isn’t want our family and friends think though. It is our walk with Jesus Christ that is the biggest concern. Most addicts find themselves in a situation where Money or Gambling itself has become a bigger focus than God himself. Therefore, even though the bible doesn’t directly mention gambling as a sin, having an addiction or passion that sits in our heart in the place of where God should sit is a sin. Getting help for an addiction can be quite problematic, as one wonders not only about the competency of the practitioner, but will he or she be able to relate to my unique personal struggles. Addiction help doesn’t have to be a mountain, and sometimes finding a good Christian counselor can put a healthy spin on your unique circumstances.