How to Recognise a Gambling Problem


Gambling is a game of chance where you stake money or other valuable objects on the outcome of an uncertain event, such as a sporting match or lottery. It is a risky activity, and many people suffer from gambling problems.

Most people gamble on occasion, and the majority of them only lose a small amount of money. However, for some people, gambling becomes an addiction that can have severe consequences on their lives.

For a person with a gambling problem, it’s important to recognise the warning signs of an addictive habit and seek treatment. It’s also crucial to understand what to do if you suspect a loved one is suffering from gambling disorder.

Adolescents who gamble frequently and without control can develop a gambling problem. This type of gambling is known as pathological gambling and can lead to severe consequences in a person’s life.

It is difficult to treat adolescent gambling disorders because it is often an unconscious behavior that is brought on by social factors. This means the person may be unable to see that their behaviour is negatively impacting their life and relationships.

Adults can suffer from a gambling problem if they regularly place large bets on sports events or casinos. It can become an obsession that affects their work and family life.

There are no official medical treatments for problem gambling, but counseling is usually a good first step to help people who want to stop. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to examine why a person bets, and how they feel about betting.

Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous, can be a useful source of peer support to help people who are struggling with their gambling. They can also be a useful way to find a sponsor, a person who has successfully recovered from a gambling addiction.

Counselling can help people with a gambling problem deal with their emotional issues and make positive changes to their lives. It can also help to address underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can increase the likelihood of compulsive gambling.

Depending on the severity of their gambling, problem gamblers can have financial and legal problems. They may run up huge debts and even steal to fund their habit.

The APA has recently updated its criteria to identify problem gambling as an addiction, and the criteria have now been adopted by mental health professionals in the UK and around the world. This new approach to diagnosing gambling is based on evidence from psychology and neuroscience, which has helped researchers better understand how the brain changes as an addiction develops.

When you have a gambling problem, your thinking around betting is often different to that of other people. For example, you might believe that you are more likely to win than others, or that certain rituals will bring you luck. These beliefs are a sign of a gambling addiction and can be treated with CBT.