This weekend is the FA Cup final, which sees two of the UK’s biggest teams, Manchester City and Manchester United go head-to-head at Wembley Stadium.
How major sporting events fuel gambling addiction?
“Gambling addiction is a progressive brain disorder that manifests in the same way as a substance addiction. A dependent person will continue to gamble despite adverse consequences, display a lack of self-control and compulsive engagement in gambling, and develop intense cravings to continue the destructive behaviour.
“Gambling triggers the same part of the brain that controls the pleasure and reward systems, in the same way, the stimulating drugs do. This causes a release of dopamine – a pleasure chemical – into the brain, which causes a gambler to feel good when they win money. However, just like stimulant drugs, this can become an addiction, where people can not stop gambling no matter how hard they try.
“Major sporting events such as the FA Cup Final can be triggering for those who suffer from, or are susceptible to, developing a gambling addiction. Major sporting events have increased temptation to gamble and the increased exposure to gambling adverts, making this an extremely triggering time for those suffering.”
Signs and symptoms of gambling addiction
The belief that someone with a gambling addiction can win back previous losses becomes all-consuming, and the increasingly frantic attempts to do so draw the gambler deeper into the downward spiral. Signs of gambling addiction include:
- Being constantly fixated on where your next gambling fix is coming from.
- Feeling powerless to stop gambling, even when a great need or desire exists.
- Compounding the problem by gambling even more.
- Gambling with larger sums of money to achieve your sense of thrill and reward.
- Finding devious ways to hide the extent of your gambling from others.
- Continuing to gamble even though you can see the damage being caused to your finances, social life, work and family relationships.
- Stealing money or asking others to lend you money.
Tips on treating gambling addiction at home
Removing all gambling apps on your PC and phone
Try to make your personal environment gambling-free so its presence less tempts you. If you have been betting online or by telephone, remove all numbers and applications associated with gambling. Temptation can never be completely eradicated, but you can minimise it within your home environment.
Strengthen your support network
Support while overcoming addiction is vital and can make a huge difference in your recovery. Active gambling addiction leans towards secrecy, isolation and dishonesty. By being honest with your family and friends that you are trying to quit gambling, they will be more mindful and supportive.
Join a peer support group or mutual aid group for gambling addiction
Knowing that you are not alone in your battle with a gambling addiction is a great comfort. Peer support and mutual aid groups such as Gamblers Anonymous enable you to connect with like-minded others. Mutual aid meetings are also a safe place to share your thoughts and feelings without fearing harming or causing worry to those close to you.
Learn new ways of coping with your emotions
Stress and strong emotions can trigger addiction to making an active comeback. You must learn to manage your emotions more healthily to avoid gambling relapse. Healthier ways of coping with and managing emotions include meditation, mindfulness, yoga, breath work, attending counselling for gambling, fitness, writing thoughts and feelings down and talking things through with someone who understands. We recommend trying different things so that you can gain as many tools to help you with your recovery from gambling as possible.
Face your problems
To overcome a gambling addiction, it is necessary to face the consequences the disorder has caused in your life. We understand that this is the hardest part of recovery for most. However, the payoff of facing up to your problems is immense. Try to tackle one problem at a time, making a list of people or institutions you owe money. Seeking help and advice from a debt resolution company or citizens advice will be very helpful.
Seek professional help for mental health problems and trauma
To give yourself the best chance of successfully overcoming problem gambling at home, you must seek professional help for anything that may hold you back or cause you to relapse. Most individuals who suffer from addiction have unresolved issues or a mental health illness that has not been correctly treated. Your GP can arrange some counselling sessions and, if necessary, refer you to your local mental health services for further assessment and treatment.
Try to resolve problems in personal relationships
Addiction causes loved ones to suffer also. If you are close to your family or have a significant other, they have likely bore the brunt of your gambling problem. Apologies and promises mean very little when they have heard it all before. We suggest showing them through your actions that you are serious about change. It may take time for them to trust you, do not be surprised if this time is lengthy. Be patient and suggest they also seek help and support to help them heal.
Be kind and forgiving of yourself
This is very important as feelings of shame, guilt and self-hatred can eat a person up. Understand that you suffer from an illness that gravely affects your thinking and behaviour. Try to show yourself some compassion, and do not be hard on yourself when you make mistakes.
Part of recovery is learning from mistakes. Humans are all fallible; sometimes, you will say or do the wrong thing. Try to right these matters wherever possible and then move on. It is also important to let go of expectations and timeframes. Recovery from addiction is a journey, not a destination.