Help For Gambling Problems


Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is based on chance and offers a prize. It includes games of chance, wagering, and betting on sports events. It does not include activities based on skill or knowledge, such as poker, blackjack, and horse racing. It also does not include business transactions based on contracts, such as buying or selling stocks and securities, and the purchase of life insurance or health and accident insurance.

Many people gamble for a variety of reasons: the adrenaline rush, to socialise, or to escape from worries and stress. But for some people, gambling can become a problem. It may lead to debt, financial crisis and can even cause depression or suicidal thoughts. If you are concerned about someone’s gambling habits, you can get help and advice.

Problem gambling can have long-term effects on the gambler, family, and friends. It can cause damage to relationships and jobs, as well as to the physical and psychological health of the person who is struggling with the addiction. It can also have a significant impact on the finances of the family. Some gamblers find it difficult to stop gambling, and they may try to justify their actions by saying that they have been losing for a while, or that they need the money for other things.

Mental health professionals have developed criteria that can help identify whether a person has a gambling problem. These are called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria. The latest version of the DSM includes a diagnosis for gambling disorder alongside other addictive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol dependence. The criteria include: (1) Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement; (2) Feeling restless or irritable when trying to control, cut down on, or stop gambling; (3) Spending more and more time thinking about gambling and less time doing other things; (4) Being preoccupied by gambling; (5) Believing that they can recover lost money by gambling; (6) Cheating to finance gambling; (7) Lying to family members or therapists to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling; and (8) Becoming desperate in their attempts to recover from losses.

In addition to counseling, there are a number of other strategies that can be used to address problem gambling. These include self-help groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous; support groups for families; therapy for the person who is gambling; and financial management techniques.

It is important to remember that only the person who has a gambling problem can decide to change their behavior. However, it is helpful for loved ones to understand the underlying issues that can lead to harmful gambling. They can use this understanding to help their loved one to make changes. They can also support their loved one by refusing to micromanage their finances or give in to the person’s requests for “just this once.” If you are worried about your debt, you can get help and advice from StepChange.