For many people, gambling is what it’s ought to be, a harmless fun and an interesting way to spend leisure time. However, when gambling gets compulsive and out of control, it can be absolutely damaging to you and those with whom you associate.

A gambling addiction develops over a certain period of time and can have numerous negative psychological and physical ramifications to those affected. People with gambling addictions may experience a variety of anxiety problems such as distress, migraine, depression, hopelessness, and misery, among others.

For some, the impact of problem gambling may lead to serious social and economic problems such as unmanageable debts, employment issues, and breakdown in relationships. As such, problem gambling is recognised by specialists such as counsellors, psychologists, and doctors as a serious, but treatable psychological issue.

Due to the progressive nature of this addiction, it sometimes becomes difficult to detect if you, your family member, or your friend’s gambling is becoming out of hand. In this section, we’ve listed some signs that may indicate problem gambling, triggers that may lead to the problem, as well as how one can seek recovery.

How to Spot Gambling Problem

There are various signs that can help determine if your gambling (or that of a close person) is recreational or a compulsive habit that needs attention. It is suggested that if you have at least four of the following symptoms for the past 12 months, you may have problem gambling:

  • Spending more money and time on gambling than you can afford to
  • Constantly thinking about gambling
  • Feeling the need to spend more money in order to recover lost bets (chasing losses)
  • Resorting to borrowing, theft, fraud to acquire gambling money
  • Feeling guilty, worried, depressed, and anxious because of gambling
  • Placing wagers until all of you bankroll or saved money is gone
  • Losing interest in other leisure time activities such as hanging out with friends and family, and instead spend more time gambling
  • Lying to family and friends to conceal your gambling activities
  • Irritability and restlessness when attempting to stop gambling
  • Urge to place huge wagers than you can afford to feel the excitement
  • Experience relationship or work problems due to gambling
  • Being completely unable to stop gambling

Triggers of Addictive Gambling

If you believe you or a person close to you is experiencing problem gambling, it is very crucial to recognise the triggers behind the problem. For most people, the following may be the triggers behind their compulsive gambling habits:

  • Money—needing money and having money may be the fundamental cause of problem gambling. People with excess money may channel it towards gambling, which, with time, may result in addiction whilst those without may see gambling as a source.
  • Family History of Problem Gambling—having a family history of gambling addiction, especially from a young age can increase a person’s likelihood of developing addiction too when older.
  • Lack of Employment—lack of employment is also said to trigger gambling addiction as those affected view gambling as a source of living.
  • Influence by Other People—if you have a close friend who is a gambler, whether compulsive or not, you may get influenced as well.
  • Mental disorders—people who end up being compulsive bettors may have a history of mental illnesses such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Others may have other related mental issues such as depression, anxiety, the feeling of loneliness, or personality disorders among others.
  • Substance Abuse—it is also reported that people who couple up gambling and substance abuse may end up having compulsive gambling habits. Substance abuse may include excessive consumption of alcohol or use of narcotics such as cocaine, morphine, codeine, heroin, etc.

Seeking Help

Once you’ve established you have a gambling problem, the earlier you seek help the better the chances of quick recovery. Remember, while compulsive gambling is troubling to overcome, many punters are able to manage their problem and eventually recover with professional help. The following organisations are valuable for people seeking specialists, resources for recovery, and additional information towards resurgence and responsible gambling:

  1. GamCare

GamCare is one of the leading organisations in the UK that provides advice, information, support, and free treatment for any person affected by gambling problems. Their advisers are available to offer help from 8 Am in the morning to midnight every day, from Monday to Sunday.

Whether you’re seeking help for yourself or a person close to you, GamCare has numerous helpful services, including self-paced resources and direct help from specialists. You can reach the organisation via toll-free phone (0808 8020 133), forums, or live chat, and rest assured of convenience and confidentiality.

  1. GambleAware

GambleAware is platform where you can seek advice and get access to free, yet confidential help on problem gambling by phone or online. Here, you can learn tips for responsible gambling, and get advice on whether you, or a loved one has gambling problem, and get help to recovery.

GameAware is also available for those seeking help from 8 AM to midnight every single day via freephone (0808 8020 133), live chat, and Netline.

  1. Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous is a community of gamblers who share experience, hope, and strength with each other in solving their gambling problems. The organisation’s website offers various help for addictive gamblers including literature, chat rooms, forum, and importantly, meeting finder across UK.

Meetings are the most important elements in this fellowship, which occur every day of the week throughout the country. From the site, you can find a meeting near your region where you can interact with other people with a common problem.

  1. National Problem Gambling Clinic

The National Problem Gambling Clinic is a well-recognised and reputable provider of treatment for people suffering from problematic gambling issues. The clinic has achieved an international profile for its thorough research, approach to problem gambling, and success rate in treatment provision.

This clinic offers various treatment and management services to problem gamblers including behavioural therapy, psychiatric review, psychological support, and support groups. They also provide medication for those affected, advice to both the patient and close persons, and provide aftercare following recovery.