How to Recognize a Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves risking something of value based on the outcome of a contest or game of chance. It is illegal in some countries, but many people participate in gambling to some extent. It can include sports betting, casinos, online gaming, and lottery games. It can also involve cards, dice, and board games such as poker and blackjack. In the United States, federal and state laws regulate the activity.

A person can be addicted to gambling if they lose control over their behavior and continue to gamble even after they have lost significant amounts of money. They may lie to cover up their involvement or rely on others to provide money for gambling. They are often preoccupied with gambling and have persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences or of estimating future wins. They may have difficulty focusing on work or other activities and are often irritable. They may feel depressed or anxious and sometimes experience suicidal thoughts.

There are no medications approved to treat gambling disorders, but psychological counseling can be helpful. Therapists can help with coping skills and discuss how the behavior affects relationships and family members. It is important to remember that it takes courage to admit a gambling problem, particularly when the behavior has strained or broken family relationships and caused financial crisis. For help with gambling addiction, speak to a debt advisor at StepChange, the UK’s leading debt advice charity. You can get a free and confidential consultation in just 48 hours.