Did you know that nearly 3% of the United States population admits to having a gambling problem? That amounts to over 10 million people, and many of them are retired seniors like us who are living on a budget. We’re seriously too old for this crap, so let’s learn what it is and how to prevent it.
What is gambling addiction?
Playing with probability in moderation is fine, but gambling addiction is something completely different. It’s characterized by an uneasy urge to continue betting regardless of the consequences. The reason it becomes addictive is because it releases reward hormones into your brain – much like drugs, alcohol, or sex.
If it’s left unchecked, your dependency on placing wagers can do significant damage to your finances. It’s also terrible for your mental health when it gets out of hand or when it starts negatively affecting the quality of your life. Thus, gambling addiction is pretty serious, especially if you’re trying to enjoy your newly empty nest.
FACT: Addiction to gambling is the world’s most common impulse control disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Signs you may be addicted to gambling
It’s okay if you’re becoming a little obsessed with gambling. It’s an entertaining and rewarding pastime, and there’s always help if you need it. Still, the first step in prevention is recognizing there’s a problem. Here’s how you can tell:
- You’re preoccupied with placing bets even when you’re doing other things.
- You often think of ways to come up with more money for games.
- Your wagers continually get bigger and bigger to provide a thrill.
- You feel restless when you’re not able to gamble the way you’d like to.
- You frequently use gambling to get away from guilt, anxiety, or depression.
- You’ve lied to your loved ones about your wagers, whereabouts, or losses.
- You’re in jeopardy of damaging your personal or professional life.
- You’ve been caught stealing or defrauding to pay for your habit.
- You chase losses as a way to get your money back.
- You’ll ask your loved one for money or beg them to bail you out of trouble.
- You can’t seem to cut back with any success.
Gambling addiction is marked by an inability to make rational decisions or set a gaming budget. It’s a compulsion that can tarnish your golden years, but it’s curable with counseling or group therapies.
5 ways to prevent gambling addiction after retirement
If you’re not already addicted to gambling, now is not the time to start. And if you feel like there may be a problem, early prevention is your best bet. So instead of chancing it, use these five techniques to prevent it altogether:
#1. Avoid temptation.
It’s harder to stay addicted to something when you don’t always have access to it. So, limit your opportunities for gambling or going to the casino, even if you have a lot of time on your hands these days. For bonus points, cut yourself off after a certain point.
#2. Find a few alternatives.
Pick a few pastimes that don’t involve making money wagers on games of chance. You’ve waited your whole life to have extra freedom for hobbies and interests. Don’t spoil the opportunity by squandering your resources on things that anyone could do. Remember how unique you really are.
#3. Play some free games.
You can still enjoy some of your favorite games without having to bet actual money on them. Try playing on your phone for points instead. It will give you a similar thrill while adding a layer of competition into the mix – all without busting your post-retirement budget for no good reason.
#4. Learn a new hobby or skill.
Now that you don’t have to take care of a family or report to work every day, you have plenty of time to pick up a new hobby or skill. Doing something that you’re already passionate about can help keep you interested even when you feel the urge to go out gambling.
#5. Consider the consequences.
Think about yourself and your family. Try to remember all of the plans you made when you were young. Retirement is supposed to be about rest and relaxation, not debt and undoing all your life’s work. If all else fails, seek professional help from a licensed clinical therapist as soon as possible.
Your golden years and empty nest are both supposed to be pleasant. But preventing a gambling addiction isn’t always easy, nor is it possible when you don’t recognize the signs. So, pay attention to yourself and/or your loved one to meet the problem head-on before it’s too late.
Marie Miguel Biography:
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.