When you hear the word “withdrawal,” you immediately associate it with drugs or alcohol. Withdrawal represents the vital first step in the recovery process, flushing the toxins from your system so your body can return to its prior equilibrium. During this experience, people showcase a series of physical signs and symptoms that their body is fighting through the detox to get to the other side.
When someone decides to quit their gambling behavior, they want to know what to expect from the experience. Problem gamblers go through a similar process; however, does gambling withdrawal also have physical symptoms? Or is it all in one’s head?
Why Do People Develop Physical Symptoms from Gambling Withdrawal?
People expect withdrawal from drugs or alcohol to show physical signs since those substances have a tangible effect on our body’s internal chemistry. These substances have been proven to fundamentally alter someone’s brain chemistry and reward center in their brain. Detoxing would have a visible effect on their body due to its wide-ranging effects. Problem gamblers would only have to deal with the mental aspects of withdrawal — right?
While compulsive gambling doesn’t have the same physical component that drugs and alcohol have, it does generate similar chemical reactions and physical sensations. Gambling alters our brain chemistry similarly, so when you go through withdrawal, you experience the same feeling of not receiving the same hit you once did.
How Can I Tell If Someone Is Going Through Gambling Withdrawal?
We have discussed how you cope with gambling withdrawal in the past; however, knowing how to identify any physical symptoms of the condition can help you better support someone in need. The mental side of the equation can present as irritability, depression, anxiety, and more mental health conditions; however, the physical symptoms can be potentially easier to spot.
Excessive Night Sweats
A major part of withdrawal — gambling, alcohol, or otherwise — stems from the stress and anxiety that our bodies feel when they no longer have the substance in their system. For drugs and alcohol, it’s a physical lack; for gambling, it’s an existential and emotional lack. While experiencing two different kinds of missing, your body still responds with a similar physical reaction.
The lack of reward you receive from placing a bet can present itself as increased stress levels. When this happens, your body can experience increased blood pressure, constricting blood vessels, and more that can make your body work overtime to keep you cool. During the night, this can lead to excessive night sweats that result in feeling clammy in the morning and needing a new set of sheets.
If you have developed a gambling problem, you might be familiar with the feeling of when you lay a bet down and are eagerly awaiting the next card. Your heart starts racing, adrenaline pumping, and you feel on edge. When a person goes into online sports betting withdrawal, they can potentially feel a similar sensation — but for the wrong reasons.
If you haven’t placed a bet in a while and begin to feel your heartbeat quicken, it could result from withdrawal. As your body adjusts without the chemicals associated with gambling, it adapts to the new normal, but rarely does it go quietly. Your racing heart most likely stems from the stress you feel from not getting your fix lately, and your body hasn’t fully adjusted to the new normal.
The physical symptoms of withdrawal don’t stop when you’re awake; they can also affect your regular sleep patterns. Most gamblers have become night owls, spending most of their time in front of screens. These behaviors have made it more difficult to function properly without staying up all night chasing their next win.
Problem gambling can have a drastic negative impact on your sleep patterns, and during withdrawal, it’s your body trying to reacclimate to life before gambling. As you continue to work through the first phases of your recovery, you can expect a degree of difficulty getting back on a regular schedule.
800-GAMBLER Can Help You Cope with the Physical Symptoms of Problem Gambling
Going through gambling withdrawal can quickly become a trying experience for someone. These physical symptoms — coupled with the mental aspect — may prove overwhelming and lead them to relapse before they get a chance to experience a bet-free life. Having the resources you need to cope with the process can set you up for success and continue to make better decisions for your future.
If you or a loved one are dealing with gambling withdrawal symptoms and would like to talk with someone about it, you can reach out to our free and confidential 24/7 helpline. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to 1-800-GAMBLER when you need it the most.