Recognising the Signs of Gambling Addiction

Gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value on a chance event in the hope of winning something else of value. It is considered a form of betting, and it can be found in many different forms, including lotteries, casino games, sports betting and pokies. The main purpose of gambling is to try and win a prize, such as money or goods, but there are also some social and psychological benefits to the activity.

Almost everyone has gambled at some point in their life, whether it is buying a lottery ticket or betting on the outcome of a football game. However, many people don’t understand how gambling works and may not realise that it can cause harm. Moreover, some people can become addicted to gambling. If this happens, it is important to recognise the signs of addiction and seek help. This can be done by reaching out to a trusted family member or friend, visiting a support group for gambling addicts, or calling a national helpline.

Some of the most common signs of gambling addiction include:

Experiencing feelings of helplessness or being out of control;

Avoiding or hiding gambling activities from friends and family members;

Feelings of restlessness or tension when not gambling;

Losing money frequently, feeling the need to spend more money to make up for previous losses (chasing losses);

Excessive use of alcohol or other drugs to relieve stress;

Being preoccupied with thoughts about gambling even when not at home;

Having an urge to gamble even when there is a significant risk that it will cause harm to yourself or others.

Problematic gambling, also known as pathological gambling (PG), is a condition in which individuals have persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that are distressing to them or their loved ones. PG is often considered to be the most severe type of gambling disorder. Approximately 0.4-1.6% of Americans meet the criteria for a PG diagnosis.

Gambling products are designed to keep you gambling, but there are ways to break the cycle. Having a budget for your gambling, such as treating it as an expense rather than a way to make money, is one of the most effective strategies for reducing problematic behaviour. It is also important to balance gambling with other activities, such as working or spending time with family and friends.

Another helpful technique is to set a gambling time limit and stick to it. This will prevent you from spending more money than you can afford to lose and will help you stop when you are losing. In addition, it is important to stay away from gambling when you are depressed or upset, as this will increase your chances of making poor decisions. Lastly, it is important to remember that gambling is a game of chance, and you should expect to lose some of the time. It is also important to avoid chasing your losses, as the more you chase your losses, the greater they will be.