How to Spot the Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Disorders
Gambling is a risky game of chance, where you place a wager on an event that has no known outcome. It’s a fun activity, but if it becomes an addiction, it can have serious consequences for your health, finances and relationships.
Gamblers may not even realize they are in trouble until their gambling has become a problem, when it starts to have a negative effect on their lives. Fortunately, many people have successfully overcome gambling problems.
If you think your friend or loved one is gambling too much, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:
Loss of control – They’re losing money faster than they can afford to lose it. This is particularly true if they have started to gamble with their friends.
They’re wasting time and energy on gambling, which could be spent on more productive activities.
Financial problems – They are running up huge debts, or they’re stealing money to pay for their gambling. This can lead to homelessness or bankruptcy.
A person’s behaviour changes when they have a gambling problem, as well as their thoughts and feelings. They often become irritable and have difficulty controlling their emotions.
They may also become unable to sleep at night because they’re worried about their next bet or losing money.
You can help them to stop by telling them how it affects their mind and body, and what to do if they have an urge to gamble.
Encourage them to seek help from a qualified professional, such as a counsellor or doctor, to deal with the problem. The person might be struggling with a co-occurring mood disorder such as depression or stress that could be triggered by the gambling.
Ask if they have any support network, such as family or friends, who can help them to cope. If they don’t have any friends or family who can help, suggest that they contact a local service for advice.
Identifying the problem is the first step towards recovery, but a long-term commitment to not gambling is essential. You can avoid relapse by surrounding yourself with people to whom you’re accountable, avoiding tempting environments and websites, giving up control over your finances, and finding healthier activities to replace gambling in your life.
Learn about effective treatments for gambling disorders.
There are several types of treatment for gambling addiction, but the main goal is to help people find ways to break their habits and make better decisions. Some of these treatments include counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Counseling is the most important type of treatment for gambling addiction, because it teaches patients to recognise when their gambling habits are becoming problematic and to take steps to stop them. Then, they can work on improving their self-esteem and confidence.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also an effective form of treatment, because it teaches patients to recognise irrational beliefs and develop strategies for resisting them.
Taking the decision to stop gambling is the hardest part of the process, but it’s possible with determination and support.