Lottery Addiction: What to Watch Out For & How to Get Help
One sad truth in life is that many good things often come with a negative side that can be ugly and devastating if left unchecked. The joy of playing in the lottery and having your dreams come true by winning that elusive jackpot is not exempt from this rule of life. In this article, we will be looking into the types of addictions that grip lottery players, how they can ruin a happy life, and how to get help if you suspect you might be addicted yourself.
IS LOTTERY (GAMBLING) ADDICTION A REAL THING?
The obvious answer to this question is yes. In the same way that you can get addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and many other things, it is very possible to become addicted to playing your favourite lottery. The problem, however, does not lie in the lottery. The problem is often rooted in several things that could range from the desire to win back money that you have previously lost while playing the lottery to wanting to change your life for the better and believing that winning the lottery is your way to do it.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOTTERY ADDICTS
According to a study by an international helper of addictions, ADT Healthcare, there are three main categories that lottery and gambling addicts (gamblers)* fall into:
- Compulsive gambler: These are your everyday people that try out playing the lottery because they have heard so much about it. As is the norm, unless you are fortunate, they will tend to lose and will continue trying to win that big jackpot. However, the reason that they keep playing one day changes from just wanting to have fun and hopefully winning a prize to feeling an overwhelming desire and fixation to win back money that they have lost. If something that you once loved stops being fun, that should be a clear signal that something is wrong.
- Emotional gambler: This is easily the most common form of gambling addiction. These players play the lottery because the thought of possibly buying and holding the winning lottery ticket helps them cope with whatever it is that they are going through (work stress, family or financial troubles, and traumatic occurrences).
- Pre-disposed gambler: Some people just can’t help themselves—and it is not their fault. Certain people are born with a neurophysiological problem that makes them prone to addiction. Playing in the lottery activates this, and before they realise it, they have a lottery addiction. This is similar to what some alcoholics or drug addicts experience.
*We use the word gamblers to reference people who play the lottery. After all, playing in the lottery is a gamble on whether or not you will win and receive your money back, so it is not that different from the type of gambling that takes place in a casino.
EFFECTS OF A LOTTERY ADDICTION
There are multiple effects that a lottery addiction could have on your life. Some of the most basic and common ones are:
- Loss of work ethics and pride: Having any type of addiction generally leads to caring less about everything else and caring more about the object of your addiction. This can quickly spell trouble for your professional career, and many addicts have lost their livelihoods due to their addictions.
- Loss of relationships: Addicts tend to become very testy with the people they love most (and even complete strangers) when they cannot get their fix. This rings true for lottery addicts as well. These outbursts and irritable moods can put significant strain on relationships and could lead to estrangement.
- Financial ruin: Unfortunately, an addiction to the lottery comes with a price—after all, tickets aren’t free. Some people may ruin themselves financially by purchasing tickets using credit (hoping that their win will allow them to pay back the money they have borrowed). Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and these people tend to sink more and more into debt in order to keep buying lottery tickets.
SYMPTOMS OF LOTTERY ADDICTION
Certain symptoms indicate an addiction to playing the lottery that are blatantly obvious. However, some hide beneath the surface and may be hard to identify. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Lying about the fact that you purchase lottery tickets or about how often you purchase tickets.
- Feeling bad or guilty about the number of tickets you have purchased or about how often you purchase them.
- Becoming agitated when not being able to purchase tickets for particular draws.
- Obsessing about a new strategy that you have discovered that you believe will help you “crack” the lottery “code” and lead you to a jackpot win.
- Purchasing tickets even when you know that you can ill afford them.
- Continually trying to make your money back regardless of how much more money it costs you.
- Using lottery tickets as a comfort or coping mechanism. An example is purchasing a lottery ticket to cheer yourself up after a bad day, believing that that ticket may change your life.
HOW TO DEAL WITH A LOTTERY ADDICTION
You have probably heard the saying the first step to recovery is acceptance. If you have ever thought that this is just a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ saying that does not have much depth, then think again. Most people who are addicted to playing in the lottery either do not realise it or realise it and convince themselves that they do not really have a problem. In cases like this, it may be necessary for a family member or close friend to point their problem out and make them aware of it or force them to confront it.
If you or somebody you know is suffering from a lottery addiction, below are some basic steps for how to deal with it:
- Become accountable: Just like in other things, having an accountability buddy—somebody that you need to answer to—can go a long way in helping you kick the addiction. This person will need to be stern and hold you accountable every time you purchase a new lottery ticket. It is recommended that your accountability partner is somebody that you know and trust, and whose opinion and view of you is essential to you.
- Seek help: Aside from having somebody close to you act as your accountability partner, there are numerous online addiction institutes that will guide you through the process of kicking the habit. Many of these institutions are free and will begin to help you as soon as you sign up. Some examples of institutions like this are Gamblers Anonymous, ADT Healthcare, and the National Council on Problem Gambling.
- Use gambling restrictors: While this may not apply to physical life and is mainly applicable to online lottery websites, there are plenty of sites that make use of gambling restrictors. These restrictors allow you to set limits that, when reached, disable your ability to purchase more tickets.
The most important thing when it comes to realising that you have a lottery addiction is not to be embarrassed. There are countless people all over the world that suffer from addictions to playing the lottery, and it is not something that should ever be ridiculed or passed over. If you really feel that you or somebody you know is suffering from a lottery addiction, seek help. Once you have chosen to receive support, make sure that you follow the steps that your aid sets out for you to follow.
Another important thing is not to beat yourself up (although your aid will probably also tell you this). While being helped through your addiction, there is a chance you will still purchase a lottery ticket. This does not inherently make you a bad person (unless you sold your child’s kitten to afford the ticket). It just means that you need to get more serious about your recovery and will, hopefully one day, be able to kick the habit altogether.
Need some extra inspiration? Then watch the story of Adam Osmond, who compulsively spent over $1 million on lottery tickets over the course of a decade, below. If he could overcome his lotto addiction, then anyone can!