Problem Gambling is gambling that disrupts or damages personal, family or recreational pursuits. It’s only a problem for about 9 people in every 1000.
However, a further 70 people out of every 1000 gamble at risky levels that can become a problem in the future.
Problems of this sort can start at any age.
This may be partly due to genes but can be learnt – by seeing a parent gamble or being taught to gamble by them.
This may be in people who work in casinos, betting shops or amusement arcades.
This may be in certain types of gambling: Internet gambling, Video poker, Dice games, Playing sports for money, High-risk stocks, Roulette.
This may be if you drink heavily or use illegal drugs, if you have depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder (manic depression).
Problem gambling when your feels out of control.
If gambling is a problem you need help.
Pathological gambling is probably affecting every part of your life.
You need help if you spend a lot of time thinking about gambling, spend larger amounts of money on gambling, get restless or irritable; if you get other people to lend you money when you have lost.
You need help if you carry on playing after losing money, to try and win it back; if you try to cut down gambling, gamble to escape from life’s difficulties or to cheer yourself up.
You need help if you tried to cut down or stop gambling but not been able to, if you lied to other people about how much time or money you spent gambling.
You need help if you have ever stolen money to fund gambling, if your gambling has affected your relationships or your job.
You may gamble to forget about responsibilities, to feel better when you feel depressed or sad, to fill your time when bored (especially if not working), when you drink or use drugs, when you get angry with others or yourself.
Or you may have started gambling early – some people start as young as 7 or 8 -never been able to control your gambling, one or both parents who are problem gamblers.
Potential harms associated with problem gambling
Problem gamblers are more likely than other people to experience the following harms:
Financial harms: overdue utility bills; borrowing from family friends and loan sharks; debts; pawning or selling possessions; eviction or repossession; defaults; committing illegal acts like fraud, theft, embezzlement to finance gambling; bankruptcy; etc.
Family harms: preoccupied with gambling so normal family life becomes difficult; increased arguments over money and debts; emotional and physical abuse, neglect and violence towards spouse/partner and/or children; relationship problems and separation/divorce.
Health harms: low self-esteem; stress-related disorders; anxious, worried or mood swings; poor sleep and appetite; substance misuse; depression, suicidal ideas and attempts; etc.
School/college/work harms: poor school, college or work performance; increased absenteeism; expulsion or dismissal.
Should I stop gambling or try to control it?
The first thing is to decide to get help - you can then work out whether you are ready to stop or just want to control your gambling better. Many people just want to control their gambling, but then decide to stop completely (134).
If you require help and advice Counselling may be provided via Skype and FaceTime in the comfort of your home, office or any place of your choice.