Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Problem Gambling – Symptoms, Diagnosis And Effects

Gambling has been around since the beginning of time. Gambling can be just a fun, thrilling activity, but it can also become a serious problem. Sometimes it is difficult to draw the line, but in most cases it is not that difficult to determine who is gambling casually and for fun and for whom it has become a dangerous habit that’s hard to control. Gambling is considered to be an impulse-control disorder and it is listed as such by the American Psychiatric Association.

Millions of people all over the world have a gambling problem, but a lot more are playing just for fun, with small wagers and with money they can afford to lose. When does it stop being harmless fun and becomes a dangerous problem that ruins lives is a pretty common question. 

It Isn’t A Financial Issue At Core

Maybe the best way to look at the issue would be to have a look at the symptoms and the typical diagnosis. That will give us a better perspective into the issue of problem gambling and will help us understand when gambling becomes a problem, how it happens and perhaps the most important question – why it becomes a problem (i.e. why are some people prone to compulsive gambling).

Many people mistakenly believe that the key problem with gambling is financial, but a psychological/emotional problem. That doesn’t mean that gambling doesn’t have any financial consequences, because it does. Actually, most people understand that they have a gambling problem only when they become aware of the financial problems associated with it.

And gambling doesn’t only affect the financial well-being of the gambler; it can also affect their work performance. Many compulsive gamblers end up being fired because they lose their ability to work, or even worse, steal money from their co-workers or their business account.

Can You Stop When You Want To?!

It is said that a person is definitely a problem gambler once they answer ‘No’ when asked if they can stop if they wanted to. But there’s one problem with that. Many gamblers will not say ‘no’ even if they can’t actually stop gambling and that’s because they are rarely aware of their addiction and they feel like they’re only having fun and enjoying the rush of adrenaline.

There are several signs that a person is having a gambling problem and if you can identify at least a few of them, then that person probably has a problem. For instance, if somebody resorts to gambling when they feel distressed and then they get irritable when they need to stop, that is one indicator that they are having problems. Further indicators that someone is having a problem is lying to hide that they are gambling and returning to gambling after they’ve lost a significant amount of money.

Many people feel that the amount that a player loses on a weekly or a monthly basis has a bearing on whether they have a problem, but that’s not actually the case. After all, a particular amount of money can be a lot to someone, and not significant to someone else. If you’re a millionaire and you lose $10,000 at a charitable gambling event, it wouldn’t mean that you have a problem, but if you lose your monthly salary at the local casino, you probably have a problem.

Gambling is an addictive habit, so if you’re feeling a strong buzz when you’re playing slots or a game of poker, and you need to wager more the next time you’re playing just to get the same buzz, it means that you’re getting addicted. Just like alcoholics need to drink more and more to feel their buzz.

Online Gambling Vs Conventional Gambling

The establishment of the first online casinos allows people to play their favourite casino games from the comfort of their living rooms and it is even possible to play on your smartphone or tablet. Many feel that this actually worsens the problem, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Namely, most countries have passed regulations under which online casinos are supposed to track gambling behaviour and block a player’s account if they are showing signs of problem gambling. Moreover, it is possible for players to exclude themselves for a limited amount of time, or indefinitely, if they are playing and spending too much. None of this is an option at land-based casinos.

So, the fact that a lot of players are switching to online gambling may have less to do with the fact that online gambling is more addictive than traditional gambling at land-based casinos and more with the fact that online gambling is simply more convenient. Players don’t need to travel, payments are secure and safer and there is a larger selection of games. One look at the selection of available online slots is sufficient to confirm our thesis.

On the other hand, if you or any of your close ones has a gambling problem, or you suspect that this might be the case,  be sure to contact GambleAware or some of the other organizations that help problem gamblers to deal with these issues.

This is a guest blog entry.

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