Are You a Gambling Addict?
A gambling addiction or disorder is when an individual has lost the willpower to control their gambling behavior.
In the beginning stages of gambling disorder, the losses are low but gradually begin to climb until the person loses everything, including cars and/or their home.
You may not think of gambling as a deadly sin, but several religious groups and countries outlaw it because they perceive to be immoral and lead to impure behavior. It's often correlated with things like prostitution, which is also outlawed in numerous countries.
Some see gambling as the deadliest sin of them all because of how it weaves together elements of the other seven.
Discover how gambling disorder progresses into and through the stages of wrath, pride, greed, gluttony, lust, envy, and sloth.
Deadly Sin: Wrath
Wrath or anger is the most powerful emotion one can feel, but what is its role in addiction?
The answer is easy...
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, wrath shows itself as a side effect to the ingestion of these harmful products.
We've sadly seen or heard the stories of the drunken mother/father beating and berating their spouse or child.
Regarding gambling, wrath comes from every loss a person has on the slots, blackjack, the races, and more. Each loss feels like someone is stabbing them resulting in a painful and angry reaction.
Surprisingly wrath is the first stage of the disorder because you still have a strong reactionary response to the situation.
Gradually your approach becomes more subdued, and that's when you begin to lose control of yourself and your actions.
Deadly Sin: Pride
Each win is a strong hubris to the mind, and it's an early phase of gambling disorder.
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Pride begins the unraveling process that's generated in three different psychological ways:
- Satisfaction of a small gain
- Inner monologue of something greater
- False sense of self-worth
Unlike being prideful due to positive accomplishments, here pride is misguided/fleeting and bolstered by an occasional win. For example, a few wins on the slot machine create a mental satisfaction despite the small gain.
That small gain will trigger an emotional response where the idea of winning something bigger stirs your internals.
Those internal monologues makes you feel stronger and accomplished but because the gain is fleeting, it creates a false sense of self-worth.
You feel worthy during a gambling surplus, but chances are that surplus will disintegrate before your eyes turning thoughts of self-worth and happiness into an endless chase.
This is the complete opposite of winning an Olympic gold medal because the success of earning a medal will always be there, and that accomplishment can't be taken away whereas monetary gain can.
Deadly Sin: Greed
Considering gambling is associated with money, it's appropriate for greed to play a massive role throughout the process
Why do people gamble in the first place?
They have an inordinate desire to gain a lot of cash, wealth, and luxury despite precedence that says it's unlikely for them to do so. The gambling and casino industry welcomes this impulsive behavior with open arms.
In today's economy, casino cities like Atlantic City, New Jersey, are struggling—so somebody has to take the fall. Mind you the struggles of gambling locales goes beyond the games themselves (location, violence, loss of income).
Greed along with gluttony represent the middle stages of gambling disorder. Once a person enters the greedy stage, they begin to forego logic and focus on the illogical odds.
Despite several losses, their mind lights up with every win due to strong psychological reaction that's present as is with most addictions.
A win is akin to a shot of vodka or an ingestion of a drug because of the intense euphoria generated.
The grandiose of fictional wealth is also thrown into the mix, which leads towards the next deadly sin and eventual downfall.
Deadly Sin: Gluttony
Once the charm and glamour of gambling fades, the person dives into the sad and uncomfortable state of the disorder.
Gluttony is another word for excess, and it's a very appropriate sin pertaining to addictive behaviors where excess means everything. A few drinks is okay, but once someone exceeds a certain amount, they slip into gluttony.
Eating extra every now and then is okay, but constant overindulgence indicates a significant problem.
When a gambler spends more than is allowed, they also fall victim to this deadly sin. This sin will gradually lead to their downfall because after a while the losses will pile up without any means of control.
As the individual falls deeper, they begin to care less and less about what they're losing and no longer care about their actions.
The only psychological stimulant to them is an occasional win, which is no longer supported by thoughts of greed.
Deadly Sin: Lust
One may wonder how lust and gambling go together, but there's a potent connection.
In fact I'd probably group lust and envy together because those sins have a lot in common. With gambling disorder, lust is not intimate in nature; it's a thirst for power.
They are lusting for something that has eluded them (money and wealth).
However this thirst reaches the point where the victim shows signs of common addictive symptoms including:
- Sneaky behavior regarding your gambling habits
- Desperation to recoup your losses
- Lying about your actions
- Stealing or borrowing money from others (also fraud)
- Betting higher amounts after each loss
The lust for power and control becomes so much that the person will throw all sense out the window and only think about regaining everything they've lost.
They spiral out of control because their actions create deeper losses that scream of desperation.
This could be seen as the point of no return because if the person suffering is not stopped or controlled, then they could lose everything and end up on the streets or in jail.
Deadly Sin: Envy
You might think envy would be one of the first sins you'd encounter throughout the disorder's progression, but it's actually one of the last ones you'll see.
When your losses pile up and you begin to dive into greater financial debt, you'll look towards other people who have had luck and success when they gambled.
Seeing other people's successes breeds an intense feeling of envy because you want what they have and will do what it takes to have it.
This is similar to lust where there's an obsession and a thirst, except this time it's directly related towards others.
You may even feel hatred towards people because they've been able to succeed where you failed.
This hatred only fuels addiction further, and the actions you partake in may include illegal activities. Crimes like fraud are common during the latter stages of the disorder with the worst cases leading to homelessness or prison.
The best example I could think of is one of the last scenes from Requiem for a Dream, where a few of the addicts end up in prison after they've been caught due to illegal activities.
Deadly Sin: Sloth
The last sin and the final stage in gambling disorder is sloth.
Sloth is what people would call laziness, but it's much more than that. To addicts it's the feeling of carelessness, tapping out emotionally, and the wasting away of their life.
Going back to the movie Requiem for a Dream, it's that scene where all of the addicts are lying in a fetal position after their hopes and dreams have been shattered. For a gambling addict the endings are often similar.
At this point the money is almost gone. They may have lost their car, home, or other amenities, and they don't care anymore. Some of those people end up on the streets or in jail while others look like gambling zombies.
None of the losses matter anymore, and even the occasional win fails to excite their emotional state.
It's an extremely sad and unpleasant chapter that could have been prevented. The rough ride through addiction is very clear and each sin serves as a pit stop.
However this isn't a scenic drive towards your ideal destination, this is a ride into a bottomless pit.
It must be stopped otherwise you'll go through each of the seven deadly sins and arrive at nothing but a wasted life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: I spend a few hundred per week on gambling. Am I an impulsive gambler?
Answer: I guess that depends on how much income or net worth you have. If you're a millionaire, then a few hundred probably won't make much of a difference.
However, I'd consider an impulsive gambler as one who can't physically stop gambling no matter how hard they try.
Bob on July 31, 2018:
Thanks for this well written article, I have been an addict for some time now and every time I told myself it was gonna be my last, but my willpower is just not that strong. How can I be stronger?
Jennifer on April 05, 2018:
I wish I had never walked into a casino. I regret it. Seven years ago I made this stupid decision. Now I feel addicted. I lost lots of money and assets. I feel like I'm in my own worst nightmare. I get up crying over my losses all the time. I have decided to look for other ways to use my Monet and time.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on June 26, 2017:
Thanks for your insight and well said. Agree how sins can easily consume us and nice reference.
Vigo on June 26, 2017:
Wonderful mate, you put it so elequentlely,whatever i say here will be less than what you have put up there. Most of us are sinners but we have to choose our sin wisely, otherwise all other sins consume us. There is no happiness lies in winning or either losing, I got no answers here probably al pacino did. Lol
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on May 25, 2017:
It's not your fault but I am sorry to hear that. It's the disease that caused it but I wish you well and hope you can get help and recover one day. Good luck to you.
Jerome on May 22, 2017:
I just lost my 401 k that I cash..n i been gambling 4 13 years but this time I screw up big time lost all of my saving desperate 4 money even loan would not lend me anything I'm in whole waiting 4 my body n suol ..very sad disappoint my family...
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on April 08, 2017:
That's unfortunate but at least you've made progress over other curses. I was too introduced to gambling by those I thought I could trust and lost a lot. You will definitely overcome it with a little practice and you'll be a stronger person for it.
it's beginning ... on April 07, 2017:
I lost 3k in the last 2 weeks. I was first introduced to gambling by an Ex narcissistic boyfriend over 10 years ago. I am now 38 yo. I feel like it was a curse he left me with (wild imagination).
Over the years I have overcame other addictions and I am now successful. I work really and refuse to lose any more. Gambling won't defeat me.
Di Godie on November 08, 2016:
Gambling had started taking a stroll on me step by step, but thanks to Online stories and experience , I can now say Fuck Gambling , aint coming back for a crapy damn system
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on September 11, 2016:
That's the right attitude and it's nice to hear. I know it varies among others but stopping really is surprisingly easy.
paolo on September 01, 2016:
gambling for me started as fun and gradually became an obsession - the passing of the years and the experience of life have taught me the only way to beat this cancerous addiction is to STOP completely whether it is by self-control (which is by all accounts paramount to kicking drug addiction) or by replacing it with an outside agent such as a spiritual dedication
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on July 24, 2016:
That's so unfortunate and I'm sorry that gambling has brought you down that path. It should be regulated somehow because it's seen as fun when it's the opposite. The worst part is when you think you could gain all your losses back only to lose much more. I was in a dark place too and I really hope you can escape it. You can't let the addiction win.
Bobby t on July 24, 2016:
I'm in the verge of suicide from compulsive gambling . It started as a child with pinball machines then sports gambling and casinos. Then I quit. Completely. Then one day I bought a $1 scratch off ticket with my change from a gas station. I won $100. It started the worst gambling addiction of my life. I just could not stop buying them. I'm on the verge of being homeless over these horrible things that are everywhere you go. I had a great business. I had a great life . I threw it all away 10 and twenty dollars at a time. Losing $500 in 15 minutes. The lottery for me is the worst thing in the world for compulsive gamblers and in my opinion should be outlawed. It destroys more lives than all other gambling combined. It's just too easily accessible . It's everywhere! I'm in a very dark place iver all of this. Ashamed in PA..
Eby on June 27, 2016:
No more gambling for me
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on November 11, 2015:
I'm all for gambling being illegal here again because it's a nightmare sometimes. That's why there's so many help centers just focused solely on gambling addiction.
lost soul on November 06, 2015:
I hate gambling but can't stop....I really need help I wish we didn't have gambling in our state.....I wish I would have never started.
gg grim on October 19, 2015:
ive lost over a million and im still gambling so don't start
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on September 15, 2015:
It's awful at times, I know the feeling. Good luck to you.
Ben on September 15, 2015:
I want to stop this illness ... Needs help!
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on June 24, 2015:
I like it from time to time but you could easily get lost in it and I envy people like you that don't enjoy it.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on June 24, 2015:
Interesting take on gambling. Personally I just don't enjoy it. So it's easy for me to stay away from.