When Gambling becomes a problem
Many people find themselves unable to explain why they continue to gamble despite the problems it causes in their day-to-day lives. The most obvious answer is ‘for the money’, but is this true? When you win, do you spend your winnings on more gambling? Do you continue to gamble until you have little or no money left?
Even though winning at gambling may have attracted you at first, most people who have a gambling problem are using gambling as a way to escape from other problems or pressures in their lives – problems at home or at work, boredom, loneliness or anxiety. Understanding what role gambling is playing in your life can be an important first step in beating the problem.
It is important to recognise the signs that you may be a problem gambler.
The following signs may indicate a problem:
- Spending more money and time on gambling than you can afford.
- Finding it hard to manage or stop your gambling.
- Having arguments with family or friends about money and gambling.
- Losing interest in usual activities or hobbies like going out with friends or spending time with family.
- Always thinking or talking about gambling.
- Lying about your gambling or hiding it from other people.
- Chasing losses or gambling to get out of financial trouble.
- Gambling until all of your money is gone.
- Borrowing money, selling possessions or not paying bills in order to pay for gambling.
- Needing to gamble with larger amounts of money or for a longer time to get the same feeling of excitement or buzz.
- Neglecting work, school, family, personal needs or household responsibilities because of gambling.
- Feeling anxious, worried, guilty, depressed or irritable.
If you recognize these signs in your own gambling behaviour -
Take heart! With determination and support, you can overcome a gambling dependency. Problem gamblers may benefit from help directed specifically at getting their gambling back under control, as well as help directed at managing the consequences of problem gambling such as stress, debt and relationship breakdown.
Be optimistic! Although some gamblers find it impossible to go back to gambling without losing control, others go on to gamble again at a later stage but in a controlled way.
The important thing is to access professional help to find out if you are at risk of being dependent and to address this potentially destructive problem.
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