Identifying the type of gambler you are is roughly based on the reason you choose to gamble. Reasons for gambling can be grouped into two major categories. Recreational gamblers simply see visiting a casino as an outing or activity. Individuals in this category see gambling as an enjoyable outing, but are not inclined to fall into a continuous (uncontrolled) desire to gamble.
The contrary to a recreational gambler is a compulsive gambler, which is equal to someone that has developed an uncontrolled habit, or addiction to the act of gambling. Individuals in this group do not see visiting the casino as a simple outing, there is much more intent sought in the visit.
The major difference between these two groups, again is their reason for going to the casino. Recreational gamblers seek enjoyment and still have a sense of responsibility and can walk way at any moment. The compulsive gambler typically has a purpose and goal for their visit and fun is only experience when a financial gain (a win) is accomplished.
If you have what psychologists call, compulsive gambling disorder, it is likely that there is evidence of this pesky issue in your finances, your goals, and your ability to function without thinking about the intense high that comes with pulling a slot lever. As a recovering addict, I understand how difficult it is to move past the idea of the possibility of winning money.
What I found to be most helpful is to understand the disorder at length – to be able to identify (recognize) the symptoms so that I am able to address them quickly. Acknowledging you have an issue is always the first step, but then to understand the type of gambler you are and “what gets you going” is equally important in the process to addressing the issue.
There are two major types of compulsive gamblers which include Action gamblers and Escape gamblers. Action gamblers seek the adrenaline rush that comes with the act of gambling. Those in this category of gambling seek to win, not merely for the sake of winning, but in efforts to gain control. Action gambling is generally associated with men and include types of games that require a certain level of skill, giving the gambler the feeling of dominance over the game – they feel they’ve mastered the game if they’ve won. Examples would include sports betting, poker, or black-jack.
The second category, true to its name, is escape gambling. Escape gamblers use the act of gambling as an escape from the thought of dealing with their own lives, or circumstances. “Escapers” are able to focus their mind on a mindless task that offers reward for little or no thought. The mind goes into what some might call “auto pilot”. Both men and women, with compulsive gambling disorder, can be grouped into this category.
Types of games played by escape gamblers generally include slot machines, or games that require little or no thought, are fun to play and offer some type of reward, or feeling that a reward is near.
In my own personal struggles with gambling, I could relate more closely to escape gambling, because I used my habit of going to the casino as a way to zone-out. Gambling was a mental crutch to get me through the day.
Prior to losing my job, I could hardly entertain the idea of going to a casino. My father was addicted to gambling, and I got to a point where I actually despised the idea of gambling. I just didn’t understand the appeal. I would always think about how I was an after-thought to his “problem”.
My mindset all changed when I was facing a rough patch in my life, and I found that gambling created a mind-numbing space for me – a space I welcomed.
Knowing you have a gambling disorder is one step in the right direction. The next steps include understanding the types of gamblers and being able to identify which most closely correlates with your behavior. This is the start to getting to a better you.