The Signs and Symptoms of a Gambling Addiction
Gambling is an activity where a person stakes something of value on the outcome of an event that is determined at least in part by chance. This can include a bet on sports events, horse races, lotteries or scratchcards. It can also include games of chance such as poker or bingo. However, it does not include bona fide business transactions such as buying and selling securities or commodities, contracts of guaranty or insurance, or life, health or accident insurance.
A person who is a problem gambler has a compulsive gambling disorder, and their behaviour negatively affects their life in a number of ways. These can include financial problems, stress or depression, and strained or broken relationships. Some people may even be at risk of self harm or suicide.
While many people enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment, it can become problematic when it is done to the extent that it causes harm. It is important for individuals to know the signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction, as well as how to cope with it.
If you think someone you know has a problem with gambling, it’s important to take action. If you are concerned about their debts, speak to a StepChange debt advisor for free, confidential advice.
The word “gambling” is generally used to refer to a particular activity, but it can also be used as an adjective. Some examples are:
It’s not uncommon for someone who has a problem with gambling to be under stress or depression, which can trigger their gambling and cause more harm. A gambling addiction can also be triggered by other issues such as relationship breakdown, unemployment, redundancy or the loss of a loved one.
When gambling is taking up too much of your time or money, it’s a sign that you need to change your habits. A good way to start is by setting limits for yourself. This can include a limit on how much you will bet, how long you’ll gamble for and when you’ll stop. It’s also important to never chase your losses, as this will usually lead to more and bigger losses.
It can be hard to recognise when you have a gambling problem, especially if it has already cost you a lot of money or impacted on your family life. The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting you have a problem and seeking help. It can be a difficult step, but remember that it’s not alone – many other people have overcome the same issue and rebuilt their lives. It’s important to seek help for any underlying mood disorders that might be contributing to your gambling. Depression, stress or substance abuse can all trigger gambling, or make the symptoms worse. It’s also important to set boundaries around managing household finances, so that you aren’t tempted to gamble with your own money. To find out more about how to do this, visit our help and advice section.