Gambling is any activity that involves the risk of losing money, but also has the potential to win money. It can be something as simple as buying a Lotto ticket or as complex as betting on horses. It can be fun, but it is also possible to become addicted to gambling.
Problem or pathological gambling is a serious mental health concern. It affects about 5% of people and can cause severe problems in their lives.
It is important to know what the symptoms are of a gambling problem, because it can help you decide if someone you care about has a problem. If you are worried about a loved one, there are many resources available to help.
Identifying signs of problem gambling
The first sign of a gambling problem is when someone starts to place more and more bets, especially on games that have odds, such as scratchcards or football matches. If this happens, it is a good idea to talk to them about what they are doing and ask if you can make some changes to their gambling habits.
A person who has a problem with gambling is a high risk for suicide and other life-threatening behaviors. They are also likely to be preoccupied with gambling and have a hard time concentrating on work, school or family activities.
They may gamble when they are depressed, anxious or feeling guilty. They often return to gambling after a loss, thinking that they can recoup their losses if they continue.
This is called the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and is a major reason why people become addicted to gambling. They think that they are due for a big win and that they can recoup all of their money if they just keep playing.
Some people may not realize they have a problem with gambling until their finances are destroyed, or relationships are fractured because of it. This is why it is so important to get help for a gambling problem early on.
It is also a good idea to set boundaries with the person who has a gambling problem, to help them manage their money in a responsible way and not allow them to spend it without your approval. This can be hard to do, but it is necessary to prevent the problem from spiraling out of control.
Getting support for a loved one who has a gambling problem is crucial, because they can feel overwhelmed by their addiction and may not want to admit it to anyone. This can be difficult, but it is essential to reach out for help as soon as you suspect a gambling problem has started.
They should be referred to a mental health professional as soon as possible. They can give them an assessment and provide treatment, depending on the type of problem.
Harm and addiction
People who have a gambling problem are at high risk for harm to themselves, their families and their communities. They may have financial problems, poor relationships with others, and health issues, such as depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. They may also be prone to criminal behavior, such as theft and drug use. They may also have lost jobs or a significant amount of money to their gambling.