Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction—also known as problem gambling, is characterised by difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling which leads to harmful consequences for the gambler, others, or for the community.

The massive expansion of gambling opportunities across the world has also lead to an escalation of the various gambling disorders. Everywhere you can read invitations to gamble online, such as “place a bet here”, or “try your luck”, making it difficult to resist the gambling urge. While some are realistic and really care for their customers by offering a variety of services to keep you away from addictions, some are just scammers. Here, you will find advice on how to prevent gambling disorders and enjoy gambling responsibly.  

Gambling addiction causes serious consequences for you and your loved ones. It can damage your relationships and lead to job loss, physical and mental health problems and a financial catastrophe. Don’t think this can’t happen to you: anyone can become a victim of a gambling addiction.

Gambling problems can be mild, moderate or severe. However, even a mild problem can easily escalate. In order to prevent this from happening, use these tips to help you gamble responsibly:

  • Set your limits of time and money before you start gambling and stick to them.
  • Make sure to set a loss limit that is appropriate for your budget. You should only gamble with the money you are prepared to lose.
  • Don’t gamble in secret: gambling should always be done in a social setting, with friends and family.
  • Don’t chase your losses: any money spent on gambling should be considered the cost of entertainment.
  • Gambling is not a solution to your financial problems. Don’t gamble because you need money.
  • Never gamble when angry or feeling lonely, depressed or under stress; to solve personal or family problems; or to impress others.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol when gambling. It can cloud your judgement and lead to irresponsible decisions.

According to American Psychiatric Association, you can be diagnosed with a gambling addiction if you have at least four of the following symptoms in a 12-month period:

  • You need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
  • You feel restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
  • You have made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
  • You are often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)
  • You often gamble when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed)
  • After losing money gambling, you often return another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses)
  • You lie to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
  • You have jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, education or career opportunity because of gambling
  • You rely on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.

Even if you identify with just one or two of the above symptoms you should consider quitting gambling before the problem becomes more serious. Here are some tips to help you on the way:

  • It is important to find healthier activities to replace gambling. Schedule enjoyable recreational time for yourself that has nothing to do with gambling.
  • Reach out to people you love and to whom you’re accountable. As you build healthier choices and a strong support network, resisting an urge to gamble will become easier.
  • Stay away from temptation. Remove gambling apps and block gambling sites on your smartphone and computer.
  • Seek professional help or join a support group. The National Problem Gambling Clinic provides treatment for problem gamblers living in England and Wales aged 16 and over. Gamblers Anonymous have meetings every day of the week throughout the UK.

Remember, many others have had the same problem and have managed to break the habit. You can do it too!