How to Recognize a Gambling Problem


Gambling is the practice of placing a value on something random that can result either in a win or loss. In most cases the stake is money, but it can also be anything of value. In the US, gambling includes activities like playing casino games, horse racing, lotteries and betting on sporting events. The act of gambling is often associated with the mafia and other criminal activity. Many people who gamble suffer from addiction, which can cause significant harm to their health and relationships, performance at work or school, and finances. Addiction can lead to serious debt and homelessness. It can even result in death.

Why Do People Gamble?

Almost everyone has gambled at some point in their life, but for some the behavior becomes problematic. For some, it is just an enjoyable pastime that does not affect their daily life in any way. But for others, it is an escapism from everyday stressors, a way to socialize with friends, or an effort to find the next big jackpot winner. Regardless of the reasons, it is important to recognize a gambling problem and seek help for it before it causes further damage.

It is not uncommon for people to try to hide their gambling habits from family members or coworkers, especially if they are having trouble controlling their spending. They may lie about how much they have lost or even try to cover up their addiction by spending money on things other than their gambling, such as a new wardrobe or electronics.

Many people also have difficulty admitting to having a gambling problem, especially if they have already suffered financial harm and strained or broken relationships. They may feel embarrassed, ashamed or think that their loved ones will not understand them if they admit their problem. Regardless of how you are hiding your gambling, you can get the help you need by seeking a therapist who is experienced in treating problem gambling.

In addition to individual therapy, many gambling treatment services offer group support for people who struggle with compulsive gambling. These groups are modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous and often include a mentor, or sponsor, who is a former gambler who has successfully overcome their addiction. Depending on the organization, these peer support groups can be an effective way to help people overcome their addiction and rebuild their lives.

Trying to break a gambling habit can be very difficult, especially when it is coupled with underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Seeking a therapist who is experienced in helping people overcome these issues can make it easier to break the gambling cycle and improve your overall quality of life.