Nowadays more and more people select gambling as a way to entertain their selves and pass their free time. They select to bet on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker or slots, selecting to bet either in casino or online. Independently of the type and place where gambling takes place it can cause significant problems to our everyday life since it can strain relationships, reduce work productivity and finally lead to financial catastrophe. When someone dedicates to this activity time without neglecting his obligations then we could say that he gambles responsibly. Nevertheless, for hundreds of people gambling has become an obsession. They spend so much time and money that we can say that they are out of control. As with other forms of entertainment, we should spend so much money that we can afford in order not to affect our personal life and the responsibilities that we have taken in. But, there are cases where compulsive gamblers stole money in order to bet or to pay their debts made by gambling. As we all understand in these cases, suffer both the players as well as their close friends. In most cases, people believe that they cannot stop, but with the right help everything is possible to overcome and get back the control of their life.
Responsible gaming includes both measures and efforts that aim to protect the players from the potential side effects of excessive gambling, in order to remain an entertaining activity and not an obsession. But how can we understand that someone is addicted to gambling?
As numerous studies show addicted players have some common characteristics. Firstly they gamble to avoid the everyday problems while they skip their work or study. But an important characteristic is that they spend more time gambling than being with their friends and family. Being addicted can not only create financial problems to someone, since most of the times addicted players lose and then gamble money they need in order to get back the money they lost. Can also create health problems for example a lot of people have stated that they feel down or anxious. What is more the problem becomes more severe when it is combined with drinking and smoking. We should have in mind that an addicted person does not create problems only to himself, but also to his family and friends. It is estimated that for every person who has such a problem, about five to ten people are negative affected.
If you experience problems with gambling or a relative has a similar problem there are several ways to help him, but the most helpful is that of a face to face meeting with a counselor of a gambling help organization.
Compulsive gambling is an urge to gamble continuously despite the harmful consequences that may have or most important a desire to stop. In the worst case pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs.
In order to be diagnosed, an individual must have at least four of the following symptoms in a 12-month period:
- Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
- Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
- Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
- Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)
- Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed)
- After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses)
- Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, education or career opportunity because of gambling
- Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling
In Europe, the rate of problem gambling is typically 0.5 to 3 percent. The “British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007”, conducted by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, found approximately 0.6 percent of the adult population had problem gambling issues—the same percentage as in 1999. The highest prevalence of problem gambling was found among those who participated in spread betting (14.7%), fixed odds betting terminals (11.2%) and betting exchanges (9.8%). In Norway, a December 2007 study showed the amount of present problem gamblers was 0.7 percent.
But what can we do to protect ourselves?
As with all the abuses the biggest step to overcome this addiction is to understand that you suffer from such a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way. But you should have in mind that you are not alone and hundreds of people have suffered from similar problem and surely there are ways that can help you overcome this bad habit.
Seek help for underlying mood disorders. Depression, stress, substance abuse, or anxiety can both trigger gambling problems and be made worse by compulsive gambling. Even when gambling is no longer a part of your life, these problems will still remain, so it’s important to address them.
Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways. Do you gamble when you’re lonely or bored? Or after a stressful day at work or school? Gambling may be a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions. Nevertheless, there are healthier and more effective ways of managing your moods, such as practicing relaxation techniques.
Strengthen your support network. It’s tough to battle any addiction without support, so reach out to friends and family. If your support network is limited, there are ways to make new friends without relying on visiting casinos or gambling online. Try reaching out to colleagues at work, joining a sports team or book club, enrolling in an education class, or volunteering for a good cause.
Join a support group. Gamblers Anonymous, for example, is a twelve-step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. A key part of the program is finding a sponsor, a former gambler who has experience remaining free from addiction and can provide invaluable guidance and support.
For more help and advice, visit Gamcare