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Problem Gambling: Risks and solutions

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

Exploring the effect, causes and potential solutions of problem gambling

According to the royal college of psychiatrists, problem gambling is defined as gambling that Is disruptive, either to the gambler or their family, or if gambling has reached a point where it interferes with a person’s daily life (Royal College of Psychiatrists 2021).

Problem gambling if not recognized and treated early can have a significant impact on the gambler and their family, this includes constant arguments between couples and family members which in a lot of cases can lead to divorce and even domestic violence. The effect of problem gambling also extends to the children of the problem gambler, children of problem gamblers are more susceptible to developing problematic gambling habits in the future (Delfabbro, 2008).

Health consequences of problem gambling

Problem gambling can also have devastating health consequences, that includes but not limited to:

  1. High rates of hyper tension

  2. Insomnia

  3. Heart problems

  4. Stomach problems

  5. Psychosomatic symptoms

  6. Anxiety

  7. Depressive disorders

  8. substance use disorder

  9. suicidal ideation

  10. suicided attempts

How to recognize a problem gambler ?

Increasing spending over time

If a gambler keeps increasing the amount of money spent on gambling overtime, that is a sign that the gambler is experiencing a sign of problem gambling because they need to increase spending to get the same thrill or excitement from gambling.

Chasing losses

Chasing loses refers to the behavior of trying to make up for the money you lost gambling, so you try to gamble again in order to make up for the lost money.

Gambling as an escape

If gambling becomes an escape from difficulties or responsibilities instead of a fun activity then this is a sign of problem gambling

Lying about time or money spent on gambling

Problem gamblers often lie to friends and family about the amount of time and money they spent on gambling, this is because they are mostly ashamed of there gambling behavior

Taking loans to gamble

If the gambler loses more money than they can afford and have to take out loans in order to cover the loses or re-gamble, then this is a serious sign of problematic gambling behavior

How to help a problem gambler

The first and most important thing that you need to realize as a relative or a friend of a problem gambler is that it is NOT your fault, you have no control over this persons life decisions, nor can you force them to stop. The good news are that gambling can be treated just like any other addictions. According to the NHS Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of treatment for problem gamblers.

This form of therapy is " based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected"(NHS) so having negative thoughts can trap you in a vicious cycle of negativity and addiction.

CBT aims to help the problem gambler deal with their thoughts and ideas without getting overwhelmed, this is done by breaking down the problem into smaller parts and diving deep into the roots of the problem to help you to break the negative pattern and change it into a positive one. if you or any of your loves ones are suffering from problem gambling, please seek professional help in your country. if you life in the Netherlands then you can contact Hands 24x7 for help.

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