Gambling Addiction – How to Recognise a Gambling Problem


Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intent to win something else of value. It includes all forms of betting and gaming, from a football game to a scratchcard. In order to gamble, individuals must consider the risk and the prize. They also have to be able to control their impulses. For many people, gambling is an enjoyable pastime, but some become addicted to it and end up causing harm. When a person’s gambling is harming their health or finances, it’s important that they seek help and support for their addiction.

Some individuals may find it difficult to recognise that their gambling is a problem. They may hide their activity or try to convince others that their behaviour is not harmful. It can also be hard to get help because many communities view gambling as a normal pastime, and it’s not considered a serious issue.

Often, the root cause of a gambling problem is emotional or mental issues. It can be caused by boredom, depression, stress, or a desire to escape from their reality. People with a gambling problem are often seeking thrills and excitement to compensate for a lack of fulfillment in their lives. The way the brain sends chemical signals can influence someone’s reaction to gambling and their ability to control their actions. Some people have genetic predispositions to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsiveness, and are more likely to develop a gambling addiction.

While the science of gambling is still evolving, there is consensus among researchers that gambling addiction does exist and can be measured. In recent years, the understanding of pathological gambling has changed from a compulsion to an addiction akin to alcoholism. This shift in understanding has been fuelled by the fact that gambling is a very profitable industry and provides substantial revenue for governments around the world.

The reasons for gambling can vary, but the main ones are: social, financial, entertainment or to avoid unpleasant realities. For example, some people choose to gamble because they enjoy being with friends; this can be facilitated by the media which portrays gambling as fun, sexy and glamorous. For others, it can be a way to deal with a difficult life situation such as financial hardship, a relationship breakdown or a traumatic event. The escapism and illusion of control provided by gambling helps them cope in the short term, but it can contribute to even more stress in the long run.

The first step to recovery from a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem. It can be very difficult to do this, especially if you have lost a lot of money or strained or broken relationships as a result of your addiction. If you are struggling to admit you have a problem, consider taking BetterHelp’s online assessment and getting matched with an experienced therapist who can help you overcome your addiction and repair your relationships and finances. You can start treatment in as little as 48 hours.