Gambling can be a fun activity for some people, but it can also become an addiction. When gambling becomes a problem, it’s important to know what to look for and to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Many people gamble as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as anger or boredom. However, there are healthier ways to deal with these emotions than by gambling. Exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques may be more helpful.
A person may develop a problem with gambling if they have a strong desire to gamble, even if they don’t have enough money or resources to do so. Often, problem gamblers have trouble controlling their behavior or recognizing the problem.
They may continue to gamble despite the damage that it is doing to their health, finances, and relationships with others. They also are preoccupied with gambling, usually reliving their past gambling experiences or planning future ones.
Depending on the severity of their problem, they can move along a continuum that ranges from minor or mild problems to very serious ones. A few of the symptoms that occur when someone has a problem with gambling include:
Relying on others to fund their gambling (e.g., borrowing money, selling or stealing things to pay for their gambling), and lying to others about their spending habits.
The problem can be a serious issue for the family and a public health concern, so it’s important to get treatment as soon as you can. A good treatment program can help you understand the cause of your problems, change your gambling behaviors, and learn skills to manage stress in healthy ways.
A person who has a problem with gambling should seek counseling from a mental health professional or a gambling treatment center. These services can offer support and guidance, as well as referrals to other sources of assistance.
They can also refer the person to family therapy and marriage, career, or credit counseling. These can help the individual work through the issues created by their problem gambling and begin to rebuild their relationships and financial security.
There are some signs that the problem is getting worse, such as frequent losses and increased debt. It’s also important to consider that people with a problem with gambling are more likely to have family members and friends who have concerns about their behavior.
It’s best to talk to a gambling counselor if you have noticed these changes in your gambling habits or are worried about a loved one who does. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and it can be an effective way to overcome a gambling habit.
You should not gamble alone or without supervision. If you do, be sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return home. Taking a gamble is not a safe activity for anyone, and it can result in serious financial damage if not treated.