There are many reasons why a gambler may continue to bet, even after they have lost a significant amount of money. It is important to understand the risk factors, as well as signs and symptoms, so that you can regain control. Being a responsible gambler means that you have to set budgets and time limits when you play. If you find yourself developing unhealthy habits, you should also be open to professional support and seek advice from family and friends.
What Causes Problem Gambling?
Most people who gamble never develop a gambling problem. However, there are a number of individuals who are more at risk of developing a compulsive habit.
- Mental health disorders – individuals who have substance abuse problems, depression, or anxiety, are more at risk of developing problem gambling habits. It is also believed that problem gambling is associated with a range of personality disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Personality traits – Individuals who are extremely competitive in nature, are highly impulsive, restless or easily bored, are also more prone to gamble compulsively.
- Age – There is a higher risk of developing a problem gambling habit in young and middle-aged individuals. If an individual starts gambling during infancy or in their teenage years, they can go on to develop a serious habit later on in life. This is not to say that problem gambling does not occur in the older adult population.
- Gender – Men are more at risk of developing a gambling habit. However, women who initiate gambling later on in their adult life, are at greater risk of becoming highly addicted very quickly.
It is important to note, that these are just risk factors that could cause an individual to develop a gambling habit. It does not mean that they in fact will exhibit these problems. Every individual is different and it could be one risk factor alone, or a combination of a few, that leads them to compulsively gamble, despite the consequences. Problem Gambling is a serious issue and it can put a huge strain on your social life, work life and your mental health. It is important to spot the signs and symptoms so that you can take the necessary steps to get help.
- Preoccupied – Constantly thinking about gambling and trying to find ways to get more money to gamble with.
- Chasing losses – Gambling more money in the hopes you can make back the money you have lost in previous bets.
- Social/Work Life – Placing less importance on your school, job or any other priorities you have and instead using all of your time to gamble.
- Crime – Resorting to theft, fraud or other types of criminal activity so that you can use the money you get to gamble.
- Escaping Problems – Using gambling as a vice to escape problems and relieve feelings of helplessness and low self-worth.
- Breaking Bonds – Lying to family and friends to hide your gambling problem, borrowing money from family that you can’t pay back.
These symptoms highlight the ways in which problem gambling can affect your life. There are profound and long-lasting consequences that it can have on your life. From relationship issues, financial struggles (bankruptcy), imprisonment, poor work performance or job loss and poor general health.
Set your budget and time-frame before you start playing
There are many ways to reduce the risk of problem gambling. Regardless of whether or not you are a seasoned casino player, you should always ensure that you are in control of how much money you spend and the amount of time you spend gambling. Be responsible. Responsible gamblers enjoy the thrill of a win, but they also go in with the expectation that they could lose.
- Budget – Before initiating a bet, make sure you know how much you can afford to spend. Place daily, weekly or monthly maximum. Casino deposit limits and always ensure that you stick to them. You can also place Loss limits, which means you allocate a set amount of money you are prepared to lose over a given period. Once you reach the maximum, do not get into the habit of spending more of your own money or borrowing money from others. Remember, always go in with the expectation that you could lose and stop playing as soon as you have used up your set budget.
- Time-frame – You should limit the amount of time, both in frequency and duration. It is easier to stick to a specific time, such as one of hour of gambling per game, per week. This way, you are in control of how long you spend playing a game, as well as how often you are able to play. This way, you can keep on top of how much time is being allocated to gambling.
Professional help for Problem Gambling (some contact details and what to do)
Despite the negative consequences associated with gambling, few problem gamblers seek professional help. Most people have a hard time admitting they have a problem and it can take a while to get them to acknowledge this. Deciding to seek help is an important first step.
What to Do?
Before you get in contact with a professional, you should note down all the feelings you are experiencing, any triggers associated with gambling, what steps you have taken to stop gambling and the impact gambling is having on your life. Also note any medication you are taking, physical or mental health disorders and think of questions you want to ask.
If you think that your or anyone you know might have a gambling problem, take the first step today and get in touch with a professional. You can get free support and counselling, you can contact the helpline for confidential advice and you can chat with other problem gamblers via a moderated live-chat service. Visit www.gamcare.org.uk today and make the first step count.
You can also contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133
Your family and friends are there to support you and help you, do not push them away. This will be counterproductive for you. Tell them how you are feeling, be honest and ask for their support while you work through this difficult time. Let them know the steps you are taking so that they can help keep you on track. Having the support of your family and friends will go along way. A good strong working relationship will aid you, and maybe even prevent you from going into remission.