Recognising the Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a form of betting that involves placing money or something else of value on an event with an uncertain outcome. It can be done in a variety of ways, including scratchcards, casino games, horse races and lottery tickets. It can also be conducted online. People gamble for a variety of reasons, including fun, relaxation and the chance to win big. However, gambling can also be a dangerous and addictive activity.

Problematic gambling is a mental health disorder that affects an individual’s ability to control their spending, emotions and behaviour. It causes people to feel out of control and unable to stop, even when they’re losing money. It’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, so you can seek treatment if needed.

Some people are more prone to developing gambling problems than others. Some may have a family history of the disorder, or it can be triggered by certain events such as financial difficulties or relationship conflicts. A number of different treatments are available to help people overcome gambling addiction. These include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group and family therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

CBT is a type of therapy that teaches an individual new skills and strategies to manage their gambling addiction. It can help them recognize and challenge distorted thinking about betting, such as believing they’re more likely to win than they really are or that certain rituals will bring them luck. It can also teach them to identify and cope with emotional triggers that lead them to gamble.

People with gambling disorders often experience a range of other symptoms, such as anxiety, depression and substance misuse. These can make it difficult to deal with their gambling problems, and they may have trouble staying in work or socialising with friends. Some may even have thoughts of suicide. It’s important to seek help if you think your loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms.

Gambling is a dangerous and addictive activity that can cause severe financial difficulties. Speak to a debt adviser at StepChange for free and confidential advice.

The earlier you seek treatment for a gambling addiction, the more effective it will be. It’s important to raise your concerns with a loved one as early on as possible and encourage them to call a helpline, see their doctor or healthcare provider, or join a support group like Gamblers Anonymous. Be empathetic and nonjudgmental, and help them find the right treatment for their situation.