Compulsive gambling can have serious negative effects on gamblers’ and their family’s lives. While most people can enjoy gambling occasionally without any problems, for some it will become an addiction. In Canada, 6 in 10 people partake in some form of gambling but only 0.6% of the population have a gambling problem.
In this article, we are discussing the signs of problem gambling and how to look for solutions with blogger Michelle Thomas. Michelle is an expert in the Canadian online gaming industry, and you can find out more about her.
What is problem gambling?
Compulsive gambling or gambling addiction is not perfectly understood. Just like other addictions such as alcohol or drug addiction it can be lead back to a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors.
Problem gambling is a behaviour that disrupts the gambler’s life. Negative effects of gambling are, for example, spending too much money or time on gambling, experiencing problems at school or work or having relationship issues.
A gambling addict can apply self-help methods, can seek help from their family or look for professional help such as attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Fair casinos, such as Betchan, which allows players from Canada, will apply responsible gaming principles and look out for symptoms of problem gambling.
Certain risk factors can increase the chances of addiction and these are:
- Age: typical problem gamblers in Canada are young adults and middle-aged people
- Sex: there are more male problem gamblers than females
- Mental health disorder: people suffering from anxiety, depression and ADHD are more likely to become gambling addicts
- Certain personality traits: competitive, impulsive and restless people are more at risk
Signs of a gambling addiction
Gambling addiction symptoms are not as easy to spot as alcoholism or drug abuse as the addicts won’t have any visible symptoms. On top of that, gambling addicts often try to hide their behaviour from their friends and family and even deny the addiction from themselves. Some of the symptoms are:
- Compulsively increasing the amounts spent on gambling
- Trying to control gambling behaviour but failing
- Gambling to escape feelings like anxiety, depression or boredom
- Lying to family about the amount of money lost
- Worsening work performance or school results
- Being angry and aggressive towards people who try to stop the gambler
- Having to steal money from family members or embezzle from work to finance gambling
- Having to ask people to bail you out of serious debts
How to stop gambling?
If there are underlying medical problems such as depression or mental health issues, you should always seek medical help.
Family members can help gamblers overcome gambling addiction by talking about the problem, helping find new ways of spending free time together in a meaningful way and agreeing on taking over the finances.
Attending therapy sessions or meetings designed for Canadian gamblers such as Gamblers Anonymous Toronto can help and this way gamblers can be introduced to people who have faced the same problems before.
Some gambling addicts don’t have serious effects on their lives because of their addiction, nevertheless, there can be psychological effects of gambling. Below you will see some examples of reasons for gambling and what replacement you can have instead.
- Loneliness and boredom: try to find a hobby, such as art classes, sports or reading
- Wanting excitement: try to do an adrenaline-filled sport such as mountain biking
- Wanting to wind down: vigorous sports are the best alternative. Try running or boxing.
- To solve money problems: seek help from a credit counsellor
- To soothe negative feelings: try meditation technics or yoga
If you want to stop gambling successfully you will need to remove the enabling elements from your life. Cancel your credit cards and let your family members be in charge of your money. Cancel or at least set a limit on your gaming accounts. Try to spend less time on the computer or your phone and plan enjoyable activities instead that take you away from the screen. Don’t frequent bars that have slot machines or night clubs that feature a blackjack table.
Gambling addiction might not be obvious from the outside but it can have serious negative consequences on people’s lives. If you recognize symptoms of addictions in yourself try self-help methods to overcome the urge to play or seek professional help.