What Is Problem Gambling?

What Is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is a serious issue that affects a growing number of people.

Understanding Problem Gambling

Problem gambling, also known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling, is a serious issue that affects a growing number of people. It is a type of addiction that can have a devastating impact on a person’s life, causing financial, emotional, and social problems.

Problem gambling is characterised by a persistent and intense urge to gamble, even when the gambler knows that it is causing harm to themselves and their loved ones. They may gamble away their entire wages, miss work, and become isolated from friends and family.

Problem gambling can develop gradually, starting as a fun pastime that turns into an obsession. This can be exacerbated by easy access to online gambling sites, where players can gamble at any time, from any location, without having to leave their homes.


There are several warning signs of problem gambling, including:

  • Gambling more often or for longer periods of time
  • Chasing losses by gambling more to try and win back what was lost
  • Hiding the extent of gambling from friends and family
  • Borrowing money or selling assets to gamble
  • Losing interest in hobbies or other activities that were once enjoyed
  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or restless when not gambling
  • Struggling to pay bills or manage finances


If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, it is important to seek help. There are several organisations that specialize in helping people with gambling problems, including Gamblers Anonymous, National Council on Problem Gambling, and GamCare.


In addition, many online casinos offer responsible gambling tools that can help players manage their gambling habits, such as deposit limits, time limits, and self-exclusion options.

Problem gambling is a serious issue that should not be ignored. If you are struggling with gambling, do not hesitate to reach out for help. You are not alone, and there is support available to help you overcome your addiction and regain control over your life.


How can you identify a problem gambler?

Identifying a problem gambler can be difficult, as gambling addiction often goes unnoticed or is minimised by the individual. However, there are some warning signs to look out for:


Preoccupation with gambling

Obsessively thinking about gambling, planning gambling sessions, and reliving past gambling experiences.


Increased frequency and duration of gambling

Spending longer periods of time gambling and gambling more frequently.


Chasing losses

Continuing to gamble even after losing significant amounts of money, in an attempt to recover their losses.


Borrowing money or selling possessions to fund gambling

Financial problems caused by gambling can lead to desperation and the need to find money to gamble with.


Relationship problems

Strained relationships with family and friends due to gambling habits.


Neglect of responsibilities

Neglecting work, family, or other responsibilities in favour of gambling.


Irritability or mood swings

Changes in mood, such as anger or depression, can be a sign of a gambling problem.


If you suspect someone may have a problem with gambling, it is important to encourage them to seek help from a professional or support group.


Is problem gambling a disorder?

Yes, problem gambling is recognized as a mental health disorder. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies it as a behavioural addiction, and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) lists it as a condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Problem gambling is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behaviour, which results in significant negative consequences for the individual, their loved ones, and society as a whole. It can lead to financial problems, strained relationships, and even mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.


How do you break a gambling addiction?

Breaking a gambling addiction can be a difficult and challenging process, but it is possible with the right support and resources. Here are some steps you can take to overcome your gambling addiction:

  • Admit you have a problem: Acknowledging that you have a gambling addiction is the first step towards recovery.
  • Seek professional help: A mental health professional or addiction specialist can provide you with the support and guidance you need to overcome your addiction.
  • Join a support group: Joining a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, can provide you with a community of people who understand what you’re going through and can offer encouragement and support.
  • Avoid triggers: Identify and avoid situations and people that trigger your gambling urges. This may mean avoiding certain locations or activities.
  • Seek alternative activities: Replace gambling with other activities that bring you joy and satisfaction. This could be anything from sports or hobbies to spending time with loved ones.
  • Practice self-care: Taking care of your physical and mental health is essential in the recovery process. This could include exercise, meditation, or other stress-relieving activities.
  • Cut off access to funds: Consider setting up restrictions on your bank accounts or credit cards to prevent gambling.
  • Stay accountable: Keep a journal or share your journey with a trusted friend or family member to stay accountable and receive support.


Remember, recovery from a gambling addiction takes time and effort, but with the right support and resources, you can overcome it and live a fulfilling life.



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  • What is the problem gambling severity index?

    The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) is a tool used to determine the level of problem gambling in individuals. It was developed by the Canadian Problem Gambling Research Group and measures the frequency and intensity of gambling-related problems. The PGSI is a nine-item questionnaire that asks questions about the impact of gambling on a person’s life, including how much time and money they spend on gambling, how often they miss work or school, and if they have financial or relationship problems as a result of their gambling. The results of the questionnaire are then used to categorize the person as a non-problem gambler, a low-risk gambler, a moderate-risk gambler, or a problem gambler. This index is widely used in research and treatment programs for problem gambling.

  • How to get treatment for gambling addiction?

    Getting treatment for gambling addiction can involve a combination of approaches, including therapy, support groups, and medication. Here are some steps to help you get started:


    Admit to the problem: The first step in getting help for gambling addiction is to acknowledge that you have a problem. This can be difficult, but it is an important step in the recovery process.

    Reach out for help: There are many resources available for people with gambling addiction, including helplines, support groups, and therapy programs. Consider reaching out to one of these organisations for help.

    Find a therapist: Working with a therapist who specialises in gambling addiction can be incredibly helpful. A therapist can help you understand the root causes of your addiction and develop a plan for recovery.

    Consider medication: In some cases, medication can help reduce cravings and improve mood, making it easier to stick to your recovery plan.

    Join a support group: Support groups can be a valuable resource for people with gambling addiction. They provide a supportive environment where you can connect with others who have experienced similar challenges.

    Make changes to your lifestyle: Making changes to your lifestyle, such as finding new hobbies and activities, can help you break free from your gambling addiction and stay on track with your recovery.

    Remember that recovery from gambling addiction is a journey, and it takes time, patience, and support. If you are struggling, it is important to reach out for help.

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