How to Recognise the Signs of Gambling Addiction


Gambling is a recreational activity that involves betting something of value on an event with the intention of winning another item of value. It is an activity that takes place in casinos and other gambling establishments, online, and over the radio. It can have many negative effects on people including physical and mental health, their relationships, their performance at work and study and can even leave them with severe debt and homelessness.

A person can be addicted to gambling for any number of reasons – from wanting to experience the thrill of winning, to trying to avoid boredom or stress. It is also a form of escape and can be used to meet basic human needs such as socialization, ego-gratification and a sense of belonging. For this reason, it is important to understand what makes a person susceptible to gambling addiction and how to recognize the signs of problem gambling.

People who are prone to gambling addiction often develop the habit because they’ve experienced an early big win, a lack of understanding about the nature of random events, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity and escape coping. Some may also use gambling to relieve unpleasant emotions such as anxiety or depression. In addition, they’re likely to have poor control over their gambling, and can’t help but think about it at all times – wishing they could just throw the dice or pull the lever of a slot machine again and again.

While gambling stimulates the economy by generating profits for businesses such as hotels and restaurants, it can have a direct impact on local communities and individuals. It can lead to financial ruin and strained relationships, as well as increase crime, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide rates. In some cases, it can also cause mental illness, including a variety of disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Those who are addicted to gambling have a hard time stopping because they’re unable to recognise that their behaviour is out of control, despite experiencing several warning signs. They might hide their gambling habits from family members, lie about how much they gamble or even steal money to fund their habit. They might also try to cope with unpleasant feelings by gambling or by using drugs and alcohol.

People who have an addictive gambling habit can benefit from cognitive-behavior therapy, which helps them to resist their thoughts and actions. For example, they might learn to confront irrational beliefs such as the belief that a series of losses indicates an imminent win or that a close call, such as two out of three cherries on a slot machine, signals a high payout. They might also learn healthier ways to manage their moods, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. They can also find support from a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. They can also learn to replace their harmful coping habits with healthy ones, such as exercise, eating well, joining a book club or sports team, spending time with non-gambling friends and unwinding through hobbies such as painting.

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