We’ve all heard the saying: “when the fun stops, stop!” But it’s not always as easy as that, is it? This post will look at responsible gambling and where to go for gambling addiction help.
Gambling addiction help
What is a gambling addiction?
Addictions come in many shapes and sizes but ultimately are an uncontrollable urge to do something. A gambling addiction is an uncontrollable impulse to gamble. This can be on anything from sports, and casinos betting to slot machines and lottery tickets, etc.
Having a ‘flutter’ now and again or betting on the weekly football isn’t an addiction. Compulsive gamblers find it hard (or impossible) to control the impulse to gamble. Even when it has negative consequences for them or the people around them.
How to spot a gambling addiction
Spotting a gambling addiction can be difficult. Whether that’s in yourself, or someone else.
It’s not always easy to spot a gambling addiction. Either in yourself or in someone else. And it can be hard to be sure, if you do have suspicions. Here are some signs to look out for*:
- Constantly talking or thinking about gambling or the opposite: lying or hiding it from other people
- Losing interest in hobbies or socialising with friends and family
- Needing to gamble using larger amounts of money or for a longer time in order to get the same ‘buzz’.
- Spending more money than you can afford. This may lead to borrowing money, selling possessions or not paying bills in order to pay for gambling
- Feeling or being anxious, guilty, irritable or depressed
*The points above don’t necessarily indicate a gambling problem, but they’re widely recognised as potential signs.
How to avoid a gambling addiction
Depending on your personality, avoiding a gambling addiction can be easier said than done. But here are a few tips:
- Know your limits
Never bet more than you can afford to lose. Set aside an amount of money that you’re ‘happy’ to lose (assuming that happens) and don’t go over that.
- Don’t chase losses
This means trying to win back money you’ve already lost by gambling more. Chasing losses usually results in more losses being made. It’s a vicious cycle. With gambling, the law of averages say that you’re bound to hit a losing streak at some point. Even if you’ve been successful up until then. If/when this happens, the trick is to stop. Accept the loss and don’t chase it.
If you are worried about having or developing an addiction, you can voluntarily opt out of being able to place bets. This is useful if you don’t think you can fight the impulse to gamble. Ask the gambling operator to exclude you from gambling with them for a set length of time.
What to do if you need gambling addiction help
If you, or someone you know, needs help for a gambling addiction, there’s help out there.
Be Gamble Aware
Get free, confidential help by phone or online. Check if you or someone you know may have a gambling problem and find tips on how to stay in control.
National Problem Gambling Clinic
Available to residents of England and Wales aged 16+. Visit the website for more info on how to refer yourself to the only specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers.
GamCare runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and provides free face-to-face counselling. Their support focuses on both the prevention and treatment of problem gambling and all services are confidential.
Using the same 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous, GA also has a support group for relatives called Gam-Anon. There’s help and support available for those affected by someone else’s gambling problem.
An online guide to mental and emotional health. Find out more about how a gambling addiction could affect you and those around you.