While most players are able to keep fully in control of their gambling activities, some gamblers will find that their gaming habits take over their lives with disastrous consequences. If you or anyone else you know displays any warning signs of a potential gambling problem, it is important to seek professional assistance as soon as possible.
Problems Vs Addiction
While it is important to acknowledge the fact that there is a big difference between a gambling problem and full-scale gambling addiction, both can have extremely detrimental effects on the affected individual’s life. Relationships, careers and financial situations can suffer enormously – especially if the problem is not nipped in the bud at the earliest possible juncture.
Nevertheless, there is no such thing as a gambling problem or addiction that is too severe or advanced to address. There are always steps that can be taken to bring things back under control, regardless of how helpless the situation may appear at the time.
When it comes to defining the two terms, a gambling problem refers to any instance where gambling activities and behaviour are disrupting and negatively affecting everyday life. By contrast, gambling addiction refers to an instance where the individual in question simply cannot stop gambling, despite the fact that they want to, know that they have to and are getting little to no joy out of it.
A Few Myths and Facts
As with so many things, it is the way in which gambling problems and addiction are misunderstood that has a tendency to both cause and make existing problems worse than they already are. If you have ever read into any of the following myths, you might be wise to revisit your understanding of the subject:
1 – Just as long as you can afford the losses, gambling is never a problem.
It is easy to understand where this particular myth comes from, but it is nonetheless untrue. Financial loss represents only one of many consequences associated with problematic gambling, which can also lead to diminished self-confidence, obsessive behaviour, strained relationships, career issues and so on.
2 – Problematic gambling usually stems from other problems in life.
This has the potential to be true, but is absolutely not a fact or even a rule of thumb. While many problem gamblers do turn to gambling to escape negative events and other things in their lives, gambling problems can and often do manifest completely out of the blue.
3 – If you don’t gamble often, you don’t have a problem.
Absolutely not true at all, as if you only gamble once every couple of weeks but each time put far more on the line than you can realistically afford, this is in every essence a very real gambling problem.
4 – There is a relationship between skill and addiction
Once again, a highly common myth that has absolutely no grounding in any kind of truth.Just as those who genuinely do not have a clue what they are doing can develop quite serious gambling problems, so too can experienced veterans who know and understand every game inside out.
What to Do
If any signs of what could possibly be a gambling problem have been detected, the first and most important step of all is of course acknowledging it. It may sound cliché, but as those who have been through such scenarios will know, it also couldn’t be truer.
After all, it isn’t until you accept that there is a problem that you can begin seeking help for it.
The first and often the very best port of call when it comes to seeking advice is that of reaching out to GamCare. This is the country’s leading professional advice and assistance service for problematic gambling, which also happens to be 100% independent and 100% free of charge. GamCare will usually be able to tell you everything you need to know about where, when and how to seek the treatment you require.
If necessary, you can also find a local addiction specialist online and arrange a personal consultation.
Managing Your Recovery
Advice and intervention will only get you so far – it’s up to you to manage your recovery that will determine the long-term outcome. For example, you will need to ensure that you stay away from any triggers that may result in the urge to gamble. It may also be a case of staying away from other people who you may previously have gambled with, while at the same time following the instructions and advice of the professionals to the letter.
Make no mistake about it, the initial weeks and months can be extremely difficult and it is normal to experience a range of psychological and even physical withdrawal symptoms. Nevertheless, it is up to you and you alone to ensure that you remain in control.
When the problem has been addressed and control has returned, it is important to remember at all times that it is incredibly easy to once again slip back into old habits. This in turn means being proactive and thoughtful for the long-term, bearing the following essential expert tips in mind:
- Think carefully about your actions and the consequences of your actions before even considering indulging in any gambling activities. If necessary, try to keep yourself as distracted as possible and as far away as possible from gambling opportunities.
- It can also be extremely helpful to involve a close friend or family member in your long-term recovery process, giving them control of your money to effectively make it impossible to get carried away.
- Find as many things as possible that you genuinely enjoy doing and make as much effort as possible to do more of them with the most important people in your life. The more fun you are having, the less you will yearn for gambling opportunities.
- Last but not least, never fall into the trap of attempting to sweep the issue under the rug, but instead feel free to liberally and openly talk about it at all times. The more extensively the problem is brought out in the open, the lower the likelihood of relapse.
Friends and Family
In many respects, dealing with problematic gambling or gambling addiction when it is affecting a friend or family member can be even more difficult than dealing with a personal gambling problem. The reason being that while you of course only want to do what is best for them, there is every chance that you will only make the problem worse and strain important relationships if the matter is not approached in the best possible way.
As is the case with personal gambling problems, the first step in the process is that of seeking help from the professionals. GamCare can again be incredibly valuable as an independent adviser, offering professional support and assistance 100% free of charge.
It is also important for your own benefit and the benefits of the individual in question that you seek additional support from further close friends and family members. It can be enormously helpful to know that they are on your side and share your concerns – they may also help when it comes to influencing the individual in question to do the right thing.
In order for you to be of any real help whatsoever, you need to remain calm and in control at all times. The moment you lose your temper is the moment the individual in question will put up their defenses, making it absolutely impossible to reach them or breed any kind of positive outcome.
Throughout the process of their recovery from start to finish, it is important to be as open and natural about the subject as possible. The very worst thing you can do is make it something of a taboo matter that nobody wants to bring up and talk about – this will always prove counterproductive.
Keep Your Cash
Try to remember that regardless of how desperate an individual with a gambling problem or addiction may appear, you will only ever be making things worse for them by financing their habits. Saying ‘no’ has the potential to lead to frayed tempers and arguments, but is important nonetheless.