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Gambling Addiction – Help & Support


Recreational gambling versus problem gambling

Recreational gamblers play for entertainment. They know that they are likely to lose and if they win it is luck. Gambling is a game of chance.

Recreational Gamblers will:

  • Have an entertainment budget

  • Hope to win but expect to lose

  • Gamble with friends for limited periods

  • Understand that it is just a game.

Problem gamblers believe that they can forecast the outcome of a game. They think they can govern chance: if something has not happened for a long time it will eventually happen.

Problem gamblers spend more than they can afford to lose. It is no longer entertainment and it replaces all other interests in life. There are family problems due to arguments, lies and the gambler’s denial. It’s common to become depressed and experience feelings of shame and guilt. The gambler feels isolated and hopeless.

 Problem Gamblers do the following:

  • Spend unlimited time and money;
  • Experience financial problems;
  • Chase their losses;
  • Take out frequent loans;
  • Be preoccupied with gambling;
  • Believe that a win must be about to happen;
  • Ask for money from family and friends;
  • Pawn belongings to raise funds;
  • Lie to friends and family;
  • Experience mood swings, depression, hopelessness;
  • Deny the extent of the problem.

Background about problem gambling

There are an estimated 360,000 to 451,000 problem gamblers in the UK and this figure is rising. Gambling, especially online gambling, is one of the fastest growing addictions in the world today.

As the gambling addiction progresses, the person's life becomes focussed on the next gambling “fix” and this leads to desperation, depression and feelings of shame and fear. Unfortunately many gamblers do not seek help until the problem is severe and they are facing financial ruin.

Very often another addiction such as alcohol dependence may co-exist along with gambling and it is essential that these other addictions are also treated.

Are you a Problem Gambler? Questionnaire

The American Psychiatric Association’s Manual for Diagnostic and Statistics about Mental Disorders (DSM) provides this questionnaire to identify the problem gambling. 

  1. Do you find that you are preoccupied with gambling (for example, constantly thinking about past gambling experiences, planning the next gambling opportunity, or scheming of ways to get money with which to gamble)?

  2. Do you need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement?

  3. Have you already made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling?

  4. Do you feel restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling?

  5. Do you gamble in order to escape from problems or to relieve unpleasant moods (eg feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression)?

  6. After losing money gambling, do you often return to try and 'break even' and recoup your losses ('chase your losses')?

  7. Have you lied to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of your involvement in gambling?

  8. Have you committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling?

  9. Have you jeopardised or lost any significant relationships, jobs or educational opportunities because of gambling?

  10. Have you had to manipulate others to provide you with money to relieve desperate financial situations cause by gambling ('bailout')?

If you recognise any of these symptoms and would like to change your behaviour, don't wait until it is too late. Call us now.

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