While gambling is something many people enjoy and can walk away from freely, other people struggle to do so. It’s important people gamble responsibly to avoid developing an addiction to the activity.
Gambling addictions, like any other addiction, can create serious problems, for the player and the people around them. There are three known types of gambling addictions which are compulsive gamblers, binge gamblers, and problem gamblers.
As mentioned, gambling addictions can seriously affect a person’s life and hurt the people around them. Many problem gamblers end up in financial trouble by amassing large amounts of debt. Others sometimes become homeless or bankrupt, putting their family in danger in the process. Some addictions have mental effects, jeopardizing a person’s relationships or job.
In addition to this, research suggests that the family of someone who suffers from a gambling addiction are more likely to experience abuse or domestic violence. But what causes these addictions?
Gambling addictions are caused by a person’s inability to control their behaviour regarding the activity. Many habits can be biological while a player’s belief triggers others. For example, believing that continuing to play will increase their chances of winning. Scientists have also claimed that fast-paced games such as slots can actually trigger an addiction.
Contrary to popular belief, stress or difficulties in a person’s life do not trigger gambling addictions. The existence of real-life and online casinos don’t trigger the addiction either; they provide gamblers with more ways to play.
Recognising a Gambling Addict
The American Psychiatric Association has revealed some of the important symptoms players and loved ones should look out for to spot anyone suffering from a gambling addiction. Recognising these symptoms is essential to help anyone struggling with problem gambling.
Some of the symptoms reported include continually thinking about gambling, an inability to control gambling habits, damaging relationships to gamble, lying to hide their addiction, chasing losses and much more.
A gambling addict can get better by seeking out help and advice from professionals in the industry. One of the most common treatments is psychotherapy in which trained professionals help addicts by correcting their problem behaviours.
There are also multiple charities around the world that help people suffering from gambling problems. Gamblers Anonymous (GA) works globally to help addicts by providing them a way to discuss their problems and offering advice. This is shown to aid in recovery.
Medication can also be used to help gamblers overcome their addiction, though it isn’t common. Some medications such as anti-depressants, anti-seizure medication and more have been used to help addicts.
Friends and family can also help addicts get better by supporting them. The best thing you can do for someone struggling with a gambling problem is positively encouraging them to seek help. Being seen as judgemental and threatening will only make the problem worse, and nobody wants that.
For gamers in the UK, you can seek advice at:
- National Gambling Helpline/GamCare – www.gamcare.co.uk – 0808 8020 133
- National Problem Gambling Clinic – www.cnwl.nhs.uk – For urgent calls: 0800 0234 650
- Gordon Moody Association – www.gordonmoody.org.uk – 01384 241 292
- Gambling Therapy – www.gamblingtherapy.org
- Gamblers Anonymous – www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk