While some people can stop gambling on their own, others need help to address their gambling habits as a problem. According to the American Psychiatric Association, less than 10 percent of people with gambling disorder seek treatment. If you think you or a friend may have a gambling problem, start by talking to a friend or a family member. If the individual would prefer to talk to someone anonymously, there are a number of free resources available both in Minnesota and Nationally.
Developing a gambling problem could happen to anyone, but there are risk factors to be aware of.
It is important to know your risks and to play it safe if you choose to participate in gambling activities.
When talking to someone with a gambling problem, remember that if you want someone to be honest with you, you must be honest with them. Telling someone that you suspect a problem and are worried, in a supportive way, is more likely going to be received better than by being confrontational and judgmental. Keep the tone and overall intention conversational and positive.
Some people with gambling problems will be relieved you started the conversation. Others might not want to talk because they feel uncomfortable or ashamed and could become defensive. If a person lies or denies having a problem, you can still be a supportive friend and give them information on where to get help.
If you choose to gamble, it is important to learn safety tips and tricks to help avoid the risks.
Although it can be challenging to confront someone about a gambling problem, the best thing you can do is to start by asking if the problem exists. Although you might not get a straight answer and you won’t know how someone will react, if you approach someone in a non-confrontational way, you might get some useful information. If a discussion about gambling becomes confrontational, give the individual some space and approach the conversation later. Always keep the lines of communication open and try to keep an open mind.
If you aren’t able to resist gambling, don’t be too hard on yourself. Overcoming any addiction is a difficult and often long process. Some individuals may slip from time to time, but the important thing is to take it one day at a time and continue working towards recovery.
Tips to get back on track:
The amount of money lost or won does not determine when gambling becomes a problem. Gambling becomes a problem when it causes a negative impact on any area of the individual’s life.
People with a gambling disorder often try to hide that there is a problem. They may lie to friends and family to cover up their behavior and may turn to others for help with financial problems. Some gamblers seek excitement or action from gambling, while others seek an outlet to escape other feelings or issues. Learn more signs of problem gambling here.
Almost everyone who develops a gambling problem thinks it’s just a matter of time until they’ll hit the jackpot or win everything they have lost back. They often gamble to the point that their relationships, finances, and health are negatively affected. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs and understand the risks before engaging in gambling activities.
For many young adults, gambling is a form of entertainment – from fantasy sports, playing an occasional game of poker with roommates, or a night out at the casino with friends. However, it is important to be aware that, for some people, gambling can become an addiction. The best thing to do is stay informed and understand the risks so you can play it safe.
If you’re between 18 and 24 years old, you’re in the age group that’s at the highest risk of developing a gambling problem. You are exposed to gambling activities every day – from lottery tickets, bingo cards, pull tabs, even poker tournaments. Fantasy football is just one form of gambling, but all types of gambling can become an addiction.
For some people gambling becomes an addiction – the effects they get from gambling are similar to effects someone with alcoholism gets from alcohol. They can crave gambling the way someone craves alcohol or other substances. Compulsive gambling can lead to problems with school, finances, relationships, work, and even legal issues.
Young adults are at risk for developing a gambling problem. Compulsive gambling generally starts when someone is in their late teens/young adult years. Occasionally, people even become addicted the first time they gamble. Other times, the problem starts in the teen years and progresses as people’s lives become more stressful. Many individuals can gamble casually, but times of stress or depression might trigger overwhelming gambling urges.
Understanding the signs for yourself or a friend is crucial in determining when help is needed:
Learn more about the signs
It all comes down to chance. Playing games such as poker or sports betting with in-depth knowledge could help the choices made. But the outcome of any draw is still random. You might think you are the best poker player around, but someone else may have better cards. Your football team might have won the last two games, but that doesn’t guarantee they will win a third.
Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.
The outcome of gambling, no matter what type, ultimately comes down to chance. The amount of time spent gambling does not have an impact on the outcome of the next gamble. This is known as the “independence of events.” A longer amount of time spent gambling will usually mean paying more for that leisure time activity.
Compulsive gambling, or pathological gambling, is recognized as a treatable illness. There are a number of resources available for individuals and friends and family of problem gamblers at the state and national level.
Learn more about the resources available.
No. The bottom line is that gambling establishments like casinos and online gambling sites are set up to take in more money than they pay out – they are a business. This means that over time, you will lose more money than you win. And, remember it’s not just casinos. All forms of gambling have the same principle – the vast majority of people lose so that a very small minority can have big wins. Most individuals with a gambling problem hold the false expectation that they will win big and win all of their losses back. If you lose money, never try to get it back by going over your limit. This usually leads to even bigger losses.
Gambling can be associated with many additional effects, both short- and long-term. Gambling addiction frequently results in other addictions that serve as coping mechanisms. In severe cases, due to these short and long-term effects, individuals are at high risk of violent behavior which can lead to jail time.
Many problem gamblers turn to drugs, alcohol, or other substances or activities to alleviate the anxiety brought on by the gambling lifestyle. Even if a gambler never experiences complete financial ruin as a result of the lifestyle, they may struggle with drug and alcohol addiction for the rest of their life. According to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, there are a number of similarities between gambling disorder and substance use disorders, such as intense cravings, preoccupation with the activity, withdrawal symptoms, etc.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, encourage them to seek help.