The Rise of Women Addicted to Gambling

While the media typically portray a stereotypical problem gambler as male, there has been a sharp rise in the number of women seeking treatment for problem gambling.

Some studies even report that the current rate is rising at twice the rate of male gambling addiction. [1]

Gambling addiction involves a lack of control over impulses and behaviours around gambling.

People dealing with this disorder will often gamble even when they cannot afford to, despite the negative consequences associated with this behaviour.

Even if someone is seemingly in control of their gambling, they may have a problem if they are constantly preoccupied with placing bets and hoping to win big on the next jackpot. [2]

Why are more women becoming addicted to gambling?

While the popularity of online gambling apps has played a large role in the ease and accessibility of placing bets from the comfort of their own homes, there are a number of other factors that have contributed to the increase in women struggling with a gambling addiction.

1. Social and community aspect

Women tend to enjoy gambling with friends as part of a social occasion, preferring to chat with friends over the casino table over solo visits to the betting shop.

Many women often feel safer in the company of friends as opposed to being alone in a casino or bingo hall, so gambling can inevitably become a routine part of life and the chance to catch up with acquaintances and close friends.

2. Escape from reality

With more women attempting to juggle a career, motherhood and the running of a household, responsibilities and stress can quickly pile up.

Gambling can become a way for women to self-medicate and escape from the pressures of life, and this can quickly spiral into a dependency due to the purposefully designed addictive nature of gambling apps and machines.

3. Excitement and glamour

Due to the portrayal of casinos in television, films and other popular culture, many women see gambling as a sophisticated and hedonistic activity that can add a touch of glamour to their otherwise fairly ordinary lives.

It’s an excuse to get dressed up and have a night out with friends, and the positive associations with past wins can make gambling feel exciting and anticipatory.

Do I have a gambling addiction?

For many people, gambling is a fun and casual pastime that is fairly socially acceptable, particularly with the rise of online betting.

However, it also has the potential to become extremely addictive and it can be easy to become caught up in chasing the thrill of the jackpot.

If you can relate to some of the following statements, your mindset and behaviours around gambling may have become detrimental to your general wellbeing and you are likely dealing with an addiction to this activity.

  • I use gambling as a way to escape the pressures and stresses of life
  • I find myself gambling more money to experience the same effects
  • I try to make up for previous losses by gambling more frequently
  • I have attempted to reduce or completely stop gambling but have been unable to
  • I have received comments and concerns from the people around me regarding my gambling
  • I often attempt to hide and conceal the amount of time and money I spend gambling
  • I feel as though I have no control over my gambling impulses
  • I spend a large amount of time thinking about gambling and placing bets
  • I have borrowed or stolen money in order to fund my gambling
  • I prioritise gambling over everything else
  • If I am unable to gamble I feel agitated, irritable and anxious
  • I feel as though I need to gamble, and can’t imagine my life without it
  • I neglect my family, friends, work and home life in order to gamble
  • I have experienced negative consequences directly related to gambling but continue to do it
  • I have lost interest in other activities and hobbies that I used to enjoy

One of the most difficult aspects of recovering from gambling addiction is acknowledging and admitting that you have a problem.

Many people find it difficult to accept that their behaviour around this activity has become out of their control, and as a result, they are unable to effectively receive help and treatment for their addiction.

What are the long-term effects of gambling addiction?

The consequences of gambling addiction can be severe and long-lasting and have the potential to affect every aspect of the sufferer’s life.

This can include their physical, mental and emotional health as well as their financial and legal standing, and can damage even their closest relationships.

1. Low self-esteem

Many people dealing with a gambling addiction struggle with low self-esteem and self-worth. They may feel guilty about the effect that their gambling is having on their family and believe that they have little to no control over the situation.

When they first begin to gamble they may experience increased self-esteem as they fall into a fantasy world of large financial jackpots, but as they begin to lose money their internalised feelings of worth and value can begin to plummet.

2. Financial difficulties

Keeping up with the compulsion to gamble can result in huge financial losses, driving the individual and their family into debt and potential bankruptcy.

It can be easy to believe that a huge win that can solve all of their money worries is right around the corner, but in reality, this promised jackpot never materialises and many people find themselves in debt to banks, loan companies and even friends and family members.

3. Legal trouble

In severe cases of gambling addiction, some people may steal money and possessions from friends, family members and even their workplace in order to fund their next bet. This can result in serious legal trouble which may involve fines, court cases and potentially even imprisonment if found guilty.

This can place a further strain on the individual and their close relationships and could lead to a loss of employment.

4. Suicidal thoughts

Studies have shown that up to 40% of people seeking treatment for a gambling addiction have confessed to experiencing suicidal thoughts, and this number is potentially much higher in those who have not yet sought help. [3]

This increased rate is due to the devastating impact that gambling addiction can have on an individual’s mental and emotional health, with a number of sufferers believing that suicide is the only way out.

5. Damage to relationships

It can be extremely difficult to stand by and watch while someone you love falls deeper into a gambling addiction, particularly when their dwindling finances and mounting debts are beginning to affect your financial security.

An individual’s relationships with their partner, friends, family and colleagues can be negatively affected by their gambling addiction, with many people losing their spouses and even access to their children.

6. Poor physical health

As well as their mental and emotional health, people struggling with a gambling addiction may also notice their physical health being affected by their addiction.

They may experience a lack of appetite resulting in noticeable weight loss and potential malnutrition, or they may turn to food as a coping mechanism and end up gaining weight.

It’s also common for problem gamblers to suffer from insomnia leaving them feeling drained and tired for the majority of the day, with dark circles under their eyes and noticeably pale skin.

7. Substance abuse

Due to the stress caused by a gambling addiction, many people turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol in order to escape the worries and reality of their current situation.

While this may provide a short-term fix, the inevitable comedown from the initial high can make these problems feel overwhelming.

Additionally, this way of coping can quickly spiral into a co-occurring addiction which can make it more difficult to recover and seek treatment.

8. Depression and anxiety

All of the above factors can result in severe depression and anxiety in people who are struggling with a gambling addiction.

The pressures, disappointments and various negative consequences of their behaviour can cause the sufferer to spiral into a mental health crisis, potentially causing greater disruption to their life as they struggle to attend work and cope with daily activities and responsibilities.

How can I get help for a gambling addiction?

If you are concerned about your behaviours and mindsets around gambling and believe that you may be struggling with an addiction, there is a wealth of help and support available.

With our experience and resources, our team at OK Rehab are able to provide advice and guidance while helping you to take the first step towards recovery.

There are a number of women-only rehabilitation centres and treatment programmes available and we can help you to select a treatment option that works for your budget and lifestyle.

Give us a call today and speak to one of our friendly and non-judgemental advisors for advice from someone who knows exactly what you’re going through.