While gambling is a fun and engaging source of entertainment for many people around the world, it can also be a source of great pain if it becomes problematic. Financial troubles and/or conflicts with loved ones related to gambling can take it from an enjoyable pastime into troubled waters. A gambling addiction can impact a gambler’s sense of well-being in their life and lead to relationship destroying habits and possible suffering for themselves and those around them.
At Veritop, we are committed to providing players with everything they need to gamble responsibly and safely in order to keep it a fun pastime rather than a fraught addiction. One should be aware that gambling addiction can happen to anyone at any time, whether playing at a land-based or online casino.
In order to play responsibly, it is extremely advantageous to know and be aware of the signs of gambling addiction and how to help oneself or a friend/family member in need. In this section, we will provide information on the signs and symptoms of problem gambling in oneself, how to get help for oneself, how to identify problem gambling in a loved one, how to help those with a problem gambling, and lastly what responsible gambling might look like.
Identifying Problem Gambling
Something to consider from the get-go is that many times, problem gambling can be missed or difficult to spot. Although it might seem that symptoms of gambling addiction are obvious and easy to spot, it is actually surprisingly common for gamblers and their loved ones to miss the signs. Sometimes this is because the players themselves are unaware of any issue and find themselves rationalizing their own behavior and habits, which can cover up the problem from themselves and others.
Any players who are worried that they may have a problem gambling should assess themselves by reading up on gambling addiction. Find out what the patterns, habits, and symptoms are of those with a problem gambling and check where one stands in the matter. Perhaps the player will find out that they do not have a problem gambling yet, but still want to place preventative measures against the possibility, in which case there are plenty of resources to assist with this step as well.
By asking oneself the following questions, players can get a sense of whether they might have a problem gambling. These questions provide insight and reflection for players to take stock of their relationship with gambling. Oftentimes it can be difficult to self reflect and take stock of our reality so it’s advisable to try and be as honest as possible to get the most out of this questionnaire.
- Do you gamble in solitude for extended periods of time, perhaps at the expense of work or other activities?
- Have you needed to increase the amount of gambling stake to achieve the same level of excitement and enjoyment you once had?
- Do you suffer from irritable moods or mood swings related to gambling or when trying to cut back or stop gambling?
- Do you think that gambling has been an escape for you from issues or problems in your life or do you gamble when feeling depressed, anxious, helpless, or guilty?
- Do you hide any gambling losses from others?
- Have you attempted to spend less time or money gambling and failed to do so?
- Have you ever considered doing something dishonest to finance gambling?
- Have you ever tried to conceal your gambling habits from important people in your life?
- Have you borrowed money that you were unable to repay due to gambling or are you in debt as a result of gambling?
- Have you tried to win back any gambling losses, also known as ‘chasing your losses’?
- Is there a pattern of trying to control or quit gambling and being unsuccessful in doing so?
- Do you think about gambling often, i.e. previous gambling experiences, thinking about the next gambling experience, or coming up with ways to finance gambling?
- Have you ever sold any of your belongings or assets to finance gambling or repay gambling debts?
- Do you find yourself not following through on commitments or being dishonest to important people in your life like family and friends so you can gamble?
- Have you ever lost or risked an important relationship or opportunity in order to gamble?
- Do you feel isolated due to gambling?
If one or more of the questions was answered as a yes, consider that gambling addiction might be something to look further into or take BeGambleAware’s ‘Concerned about your gambling’ quiz to get more insight. It can be quite difficult to be honest with oneself and even begin to accept that there may be an issue. Confronting these parts of ourselves can be very challenging but calling it out is the first step to recovery and help. If the above behaviors resonate with anybody, then it may be wise to take steps to adjust one’s gambling practices and regain control of one’s life.
It is also important to consider that the questionnaires above are merely a self guided reflection and can in no way replace an official diagnosis from a professional. It is simply a starting point. Our recommendation is that readers who have reason to be concerned after taking the assessment should seek out a professional, whether it be a therapist or psychiatrist, to get an accurate diagnosis. There may be other mental health conditions such as substance abuse, depressive disorders, or anxiety disorders that might be the root cause of problem gambling. It would be advisable to work with a mental health professional in taking a look at other factors that might be creating the problem and work on those issues rather than slapping a band aid on a symptom of a greater problem.
But let’s say that the questionnaire has jumpstarted some awareness of a developing gambling problem and one is ready to do something now. Start researching problem gambling and responsible gambling practices. Get the information that will help one stay on track or get treatment. By becoming knowledgeable about a topic, it helps to demystify the problem and make it that much easier to handle and treat. Read up on gambling addiction, how it develops, how it shows up, and how it affects the individual and impacts those around them. Find out everything about the topic to understand it and know what to expect.
There is a wealth of information out there on the internet related to this topic. At times, having too many options out there can make a task seem daunting so we have done the heavy lifting and compiled our own research on the topic in an easy to read format. What we will share next is our recommendations on how to tackle problem gambling and get back on track to a healthier relationship to gambling.
Self-Help for Problem Gambling
The first step in treating problem gambling is to seek help. It might seem obvious but oftentimes we try to help ourselves in isolation because there might be some guilt or shame associated with a gambling problem. Overcoming an addiction can be difficult but it is possible and more likely if one gets help. By acting quickly, one can also stymie the progress of the addiction. Get help with problem gambling by enlisting family and friends to help one keep on track. There are professionals out there and problem gambling help centers available to reach out to as well. Additionally, we will recommend tips in our article on how one can gamble responsibly and play safe. For those who have early signs, there are gambling tools and safety measures one can set up to support responsible gambling and practices.
Luckily, there are some actionable steps that one can take to immediately have an impact on any problem gambling. We have compiled this list of seven self-help practices that support and enhance responsible gaming for the individual. Give them a read and we encourage players to put these into practice.
- Put a limit on the amount or frequency of deposits or playing time. Many online casinos allow players to place a self-imposed limit on deposits. It is a self regulating system where one can choose the limit themselves.
- Tell somebody. Seek out support by sharing with a trusted family member or friend. There are also Gamblers Anonymous meetings that one can attend.
- Do other activities that are fun and enjoyable. There are tons of hobbies and ways to have fun; seek those out. Make sure to avoid isolation by finding new and healthy ways to socialize and have fun.
- There is a website, www.gamblock.com, which will prevent access to online casinos. The best part is that it is all self guided so the player decides how much or little they want to play.
- Keep track of gambling habits by marking on a calendar the days one gambles. It can be a huge benefit to track progress and tangibly see how one’s gambling habits change over time. Try to see how long one can go without gambling. This can assist in weakening the urge and allowing it to pass, rather than indulging in the action.
- Acknowledge the painful consequences of gambling. Maybe it doesn’t make one feel good or perhaps there are more severe and painful effects of gambling. Acknowledge those and make the consequences real.
- For truly trying times, another method is to cut oneself off from gambling entirely. Impose a self exclusion and take a break from not just online gambling, but all forms of gambling. It can be tempting to try and sneak one here or there, but it could be that a blanket exclusion might just do the trick.
Quitting a gambling addiction can be very difficult, but one does not have to do it alone. While we have shared some self help techniques, there are additional ways to get support for one’s self destructive habits so find the ones that work and use them.
If helping oneself is failing to resolve the issue, it may be time to seek external treatment or outside help. The good part is that there are plenty of dedicated resources and specialists trained in this exact issue. Many people have walked this path before and were able to change their relationship with gambling. It is possible to do it and with the help of family, friends, a trained professional, and/or peer support group, one can make changes for the better.
One of the most effective ways to treat a gambling addiction is therapy and counseling. With the support of a professional trained in this area, therapy and counseling has been proven to have a high success rate in the treatment of problem gambling. Professional clinicians can offer a roadmap for recovery that the individual may not know of. In addition, it is true that many people who have a gambling addiction also have other mental health issues. By treating the root cause, there is a higher success rate of recovery from a gambling addiction.
Another method that one could turn to for assistance in treatment for a gambling addiction is medical treatment. While there are no medications designed specifically for gambling addiction and recovery, it has been shown that some medications do have an effect on decreasing the gambling urge. These medications include antidepressants, some SSRIs, medications used in the treatment of other addictions, and anti-seizure medications. Consult with a doctor or qualified clinician to find out more about getting on medication to treat gambling addiction.
Lastly, those with problem gambling can turn to support groups and peer groups to assist in the process of recovery from a gambling addiction. Many times when we are facing a problem in our lives, it can be tempting to self isolate. This is probably the worst thing that one can do because it shuts out those closest to us who want to help us and also cut off the flow of potential help and support. So if gambling is turning into a problem and there is a desire to hide, try to go against that and do the opposite – seek help.
A very beneficial resource for those looking for help is Gamblers’ Anonymous. This group has been around for a while and has supported thousands of people with gambling problems. Peer support systems such as Gamblers’ Anonymous have been proven to aid in recovery. When combined with therapy and counseling, the positive impact on gambling addicts has been shown to be quite effective. One reason for this is that in these groups, members share similar challenges and experiences with others who have been in the same situation. There is understanding and empathy by finding others who are sharing in the struggle. This makes the issue feel less daunting and less overwhelming. This shared experience that peer support groups create can truly have a profound effect on the individual struggling with gambling addiction.
Identifying Problem Gambling in Family or Friends
While the impact of gambling addiction can be particularly challenging on the individual going through it, it is also true that it has a significant impact on their loved ones as well. This is a problem that can extend way beyond the individual and negatively affect their immediate and wider social circles.
It can be difficult to spot a gambling problem in another. Sometimes, the addict may not be aware of their own issue. The initial step for individuals who have a sense that a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction is to first assess the situation. Find out if the concern is valid by researching and becoming knowledgeable of the signs and symptoms of problem gambling.
Read through the questions that we have provided below as a brief assessment of problem gambling in another. If the person who might have a gambling problem is willing to, see whether they will go through the questionnaire themselves or provide them with the questionnaire we offered earlier in the article. Based on their answers, the concerns and worries will either be cleared up or validated, at which point the next steps will become clearer.
- They have begun lying about their gambling
- Their relationships with loved ones are crumbling in order to gamble more
- They themselves admit or suggest that they have a gambling problem
- They have begun to borrow money more often or habitually, or they have begun to steal or sell off their possessions
- The time they spend gambling is increasing
- They are having trouble paying their bills or basic necessities because they are spending their money on gambling
If some or all of these questions are answered with a yes, then it is time to consider offering help or support. The number one advice at this step in the process is to be as understanding as possible. People with any sort of addiction problem will not respond well to judgemental or threatening behavior related to their addiction. It is already a challenging step to admit to an addiction and they may get defensive and reject or deny the reality.
For people who have discovered that a family member or friend is struggling with a gambling addiction, it can be a difficult experience and challenging to navigate. There is something particularly distressing about being in a position of watching a loved one spiral into addiction.
If one has no previous experience with problem gambling, it can feel overwhelming with a sense of helplessness or confusion as to where to even start. But there are resources and methods that individuals can enlist to help their family or friends with a gambling problem. We recognize that with all of the resources out there, the task can seem daunting. This is why we at Veritop have also written up some recommendations and tips for those whose loved ones are struggling with problem gambling.
Help for Problem Gambling in Family or Friends
If the gambling problem assessment has confirmed any concerns about a potential gambling addiction, the next step to take is to familiarize oneself even more on the topic. To better understand the addict, research and read up on what makes gambling addictive and how a gambling addiction can develop. By putting oneself in the addict’s shoes and cultivating empathy, it can make the process easier for both parties. In addition, research and read how to recover from a gambling addiction and seek out professional help or peer support groups in the area. Start the conversation and enlist help.
Breaking the ice on the topic of addiction can be very difficult. It can feel confronting and nobody knows exactly how the problem gambler will respond or react to an intervention. Therefore, it is crucial that family and friends of a problem gambler approach their situation with a positive and loving manner, while also expressing their concern. The tone should not be confrontational or emotionally heated. It may also be useful to first get guidance from a professional interventionist before having the conversation.
Definitely do not ever enable the gambler by offering to pay off gambling debts or anything of the sort. It is possible to offer support and help without enabling their problem gambling. One way to help them financially is by assisting in finding resources for financial services.
Help them get into treatment by seeking out professional counseling or support groups like Gamblers’ Anonymous in the area. There are many organizations out there dedicated to this exact issue. There are even helplines such as the National Problem Gambling Network that can advise and provide support for friends and family that are worried about a loved one’s gambling problem.
Now that we are familiarized with what problem gambling looks like, what about the inverse – what is responsible gambling? Considering what safe gambling and problem gambling prevention might look like is a good move because it helps to be knowledgeable. Being in the know about safe gambling means that one can set up some safety measures that can provide a check and balance to game play. Setting up guidelines for responsible gambling is one way that gamblers can keep their gameplay balanced.
The other tool for safe gambling is being aware. Not everyone knows what problem gambling looks like until it’s too late. By reading our article, players are already one step ahead because they know what signs to look for.
Knowing these signs and symptoms means that players can keep an eye on their gambling practices and habits. Before habits start to err on the side of problematic gambling, consider taking some preventative measures. Take advantage of responsible gambling tools available at online casinos such as self imposed limits on deposits and more.
The best preventative care is being aware of any issues as soon as they develop. We have listed signs and symptoms of problem gambling earlier in the article so have a read through to familiarize oneself with what problematic gambling might look like. Gamblers have the opportunity to be their own best support system by being knowledgeable of what tools are out there. Good luck and happy gambling!