This guide to gambling problems is designed to help you recognize whether you or a friend or loved one has an issue which needs to be tackled. This should help anyone who is worried about gambling find appropriate help and guidance.
Betting and trading should be a fun pastime, a way to earn a bit of extra cash when you beat the bookies.
Please don’t let it go beyond that fun. Never bet more than you can afford to lose. Even the best thought out betting strategies are not guaranteed to win every time.
What are the most common signs of a gambling problem?
In cases where it is not controlled, gambling is an addiction like many other addictions. Some common indicators of a gambling issue include the following:
- Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling and not letting people close to you know that it is part of your life
- Having trouble controlling gambling habits
- Gambling when you cannot afford to and betting more than you can safely afford to lose
- Your friends and family express concern about your gambling
- Feeling a need to gamble with increasing amounts of money so as to achieve the desired effect.
- Restlessness and irritability when you cut down or stop gambling
- Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control or stop gambling
- Mind is always preoccupied with gambling. Always thinking about the next bet or ruminating over the last one.
- Relying on others to relieve desperate financial situations as a result of gambling.
What is gambling addiction?
A gambling addiction is when you have the urge to gamble regularly / continuously, even while you may have a wish to stop and understand that the consequences are negative. It is sometimes known as problem gambling, ludomania or compulsive gambling.
What are the factors that lead to a gambling addiction?
- The desire to experience thrills?
- Desperation for money?
- The entertaining atmosphere of the gambling scene?
- The social status associated with being a successful gambler?
Treatment for Gambling Problems
There are many people who can help someone experiencing gambling problems or families who are worried that a loved one is hooked on gambling.
Self-help treatment if you are worried about gambling
The first step towards successfully dealing with a gambling problem is to recognise that the problem exists. This step is vital as without it, no treatment will work.
Sometimes, issues like stress, anxiety, substance abuse or depression can actually trigger gambling problems. These should be addressed to, because they will remain even after you have successfully battled a gambling addiction.
Some people find that gambling helps them deal with emotions like being lonely, stressed or bored. Try healthier techniques to manage these emotions, like relaxation techniques, mindfulness or yoga. Avoid places and websites where you feel tempted.
Although extremely difficult, it is very important to reach out to friends and family who will give you the support you need to overcome the addiction. You should surround yourself with people you are accountable to and who care for you.
Joining a support group is often helpful too, because you get to meet other people who know how you feel having faced the same challenges themselves. They will give you encouragement and inspiration as well as motivation.
Sometimes, professional support will be needed to help you get over a gambling problem and there are many sympathetic and well trained people out there willing to help.
Inpatient treatment programmes are for people with severe gambling addiction. They cannot avoid gambling without constant support. These are only available after referral from an appropriate medical professional.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on modifying and changing the unhealthy gambling thoughts and behaviors. These would include things like false beliefs and irrational thoughts. CBT can also help you learn how to fight the urges to gamble and how to solve the work, financial and relationship troubles that have been brought about by the gambling addiction. CBT has a very good success rate and is accessible after referral from a medical professional.
Marriage and credit counselling programmes are designed to help you work constructively through relationship and financial problems which could be related to gambling.
The services offered by Gamcare are really helpful and constructive.
They provide safe, moderated chatrooms where it is possible to live chat with others affected by problem gambling. Both gamblers and those affected by someone else’s gambling are welcome. This inclusive approach is important and nonjudgmental.
One of the most common results of a gambling problem is debt, and yet debt is also used by many gamblers as a reason for their continued gambling. It plays a complex and contradictory role at the heart of the gambling experience for many of the people that we speak to. If debt has become a problem for you as a result of your gambling.
Useful websites and organisations
Gamcare – a leading provider of free support and advice
NHS Choice – informative resource about gambling addictions
Gamblers Anonymous – A fellowship of men and women who share their experience with others worried about gambling
Gamble Aware – Confidential support, counselling and financial advice
No Judgment – Thriving Facebook community dealing with issues for those worried about gambling.