UPDATED ON: by James Worden

Gambling is one of the commonest things around the world. It is a fun way to enjoy some free time but it can also become a serious addiction if not done properly. Below are the warning signs and how you can stop if you need to:

What is gambling addiction/problem?

Gambling addiction problemGambling is one of the oldest industries and due to its popularity; it can become an addiction to anybody from all walks of life. To get to the addiction stage, a punter will move from gambling for fun to an unhealthy obsession with the industry. This can also be detrimental to both your finances as well as your health.

Some of the things common among most gambling addicts are running into huge debts after borrowing heaving to finance their gambling addictions or even stealing.

Gambling addiction comes in many forms and it has other names like gambling disorder, pathological gambling or compulsive gambling. This is simply an impulse-control disorder and it is worthwhile to seek help if you find yourself in such a situation.

A compulsive gambler has no control over their gambling activity and they will do it regardless of the outcome or negative consequences. To a gambling addict, they don’t really care whether the odds are against them, or whether they are up or down, they will gamble anyway.

Gambling addiction comes with other forms of behaviour or mood disorders. Some of the most common include depression, substance abuse issues, bipolar disorder, unmanaged ADHD, stress or some form of anxiety.

The good thing with gambling addiction is that you can always overcome it. Below, we take an in-depth look at the steps you can follow to overcome this addiction. First and foremost, let’s look at the myths associated with gambling problems:

-Myth: Only people who bet on a daily basis have a gambling problem

Fact: A problem gambler does not need to gamble every day to get into the addiction. If gambling is causing you problems, then it is already a problem!

-Myth: Problem gambling is not an addiction as long as the gambler has the money to spend

Fact: Most of the problems that come with excessive gambling are not just financial. There are other things like a strained relationship with a loved one or at the place of work which may lead to job loss, and mental health issues like stress, anxiety or depression. There are also cases of suicide.

-Myth: Gamblers are irresponsible, weak-willed, or unintelligent.

Fact: Gambling addiction does not really choose and it affects people from all walks of life.

-Myth: Partners of people with a gambling problem usually drive their loved ones to gamble.

Fact: Most gambling addicts use excuses to justify their addiction.  They also blame others to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

-Myth: Bailout a problem gambler if he/she builds up a huge debt from gambling.

Fact: This is a quick fix solution that may work briefly but in the long run, it may make things worse as this will enable them to continue with their gambling problems.

Gambling addiction signs to look out for

Gambling addiction has many names and some prefer to call it a “hidden disease” since there are no noticeable physical symptoms like what we see in most alcoholics and drug abusers. But what are the signs you need to look out for:

-If you feel the need to be very secretive about your betting, or sometimes you bet in secret or lie about the amount of money you have used to bet with the hope of surprising your loved ones with a big win, then you may slowly be becoming a gambling addict.

-You have no control over your gambling. The moment you start gambling, you are unable to walk away? Or are you gamble to your last coin in the hope of recouping your lost stake.

- You gamble way past your gambling budget and you find yourself using money meant for other bills or credit cards. You even go to the extent of borrowing or selling your stuff to get gambling money.

Self-help for gambling problems

Self-help for gambling problemsTo overcome gambling addiction, you just need one thing and that is to realise that you have a problem and own up to it. It may not be an easy thing to do especially if you have done things that have put your trust and relationship on the line, however, you can always seek help.

You are not the first one and many others have been there before you and they were able to rebuild their lives.  Also, avoid gambling when you are bored, after an argument or a bad day or when alone.

In some cases, gambling is a kind of “self-soothe” to unpleasant emotions or a form of socialisation. To overcome this addiction, try new things like:

-Look for a strong support network. It’s tough for anyone to fight addiction on their own. Your support could include family and friends. You can also reach out to your colleagues to work or engage in other social activities like volunteering, joining a sports team or enrolling in an education class.

-Take a bold step and join a peer support group. There is a group called Gamblers Anonymous. This is a twelve-step recovery program that was created after the famous Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the best parts about this program is finding a sponsor who is most likely a former gambling addict and who has overcome the addiction.  

-Look for help if you have other underlying conditions like mood disorders. Remember, physiological occurrences like anxiety, stress, depression, and even substance can trigger both trigger gambling problems.

There are other professional bodies that can help you to overcome this addiction. Some of them are:

National Problem Gambling Clinic: NHS specialist clinic for problem gamblers (this particular body works for gambles in Europe).

GamCare: This is the UK's main support and counselling organisation.  

Gamblers Anonymous: A peer charity group that uses the 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous.

GamAnon: this is an incredible support group for family and friends. It is a group run by the same group that runs Gamblers Anonymous.


Gambling addicts should not be a problem anymore. Accepting that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery.