How to Spot a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is an activity where a person risks money or something else of value in the hope of winning. People gamble for many reasons, from the excitement of winning big to socialising with friends and even coping with depression or anxiety. For some, gambling becomes problematic and can have serious consequences for their health, relationships and work or study performance. It can also lead to debt and even homelessness. Problem gambling can be difficult to spot in yourself or a loved one.

A key factor in the development of gambling disorder is impulsiveness. It is believed that when a person is impulsive, they have difficulty controlling their actions and may engage in riskier behaviours such as gambling, even when they know it is harmful to them. It is also thought that gambling can be addictive because of how it stimulates the brain. The action of predicting outcomes, whether on a scratchcard or slot machine, in betting shops or online, and then placing a bet based on those predictions can trigger an avalanche of neurochemicals in the brain such as dopamine, adrenaline and dopamina that create a natural high. This high is why some people find it hard to stop gambling, despite their mounting losses.

There is a wide range of treatments for gambling disorders. Counselling, family therapy, marriage and relationship counselling, credit counseling, and support groups like Gamblers Anonymous can all be helpful. In some cases, medications can be used to help treat co-occurring conditions such as anxiety and depression.

The most important thing is to get help if you think you or someone you know has a problem with gambling. You can talk to a doctor or a counselor who specializes in gambling addiction and seek treatment. You can also try a peer support program such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous and provides guidance from a sponsor who is a former gambler who has successfully remained free of gambling.

It’s also important to remember that your loved ones may be gambling for coping reasons – because it helps them forget their problems, or to feel more confident, or to relieve boredom or depression. This doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for their gambling disorder, but it does give you a better understanding of why they keep gambling and what drives them to continue gambling even when it causes damage to their health, their relationships and their finances. You can use this information to be more understanding and helpful when supporting them through their recovery. It can also help you avoid getting angry at them, which could be counterproductive.

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