Recognizing the Signs of a Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a risk-taking activity in which people wager something of value on the outcome of an event, such as a lottery, casino games or placing bets on sports events. The gambler hopes to win a prize, which could be anything from money to a car or a vacation. Some people do not have a problem with gambling, but others develop addictions to the practice. Addiction can have devastating effects on people’s lives and families. It is important to recognize the signs of a gambling addiction and seek help if you have one.

Research shows that pathological gambling (PG) negatively impacts multiple aspects of the gambler’s life. PG is typically a chronic and recurrent behavior that begins in adolescence or young adulthood and persists throughout a person’s life. It can lead to severe financial, labor and health/wellness problems that impact the gambler and other family members as well as society at large.

Various models have been developed to examine the impact of gambling on individuals, families and society. These models differ in their assumptions about the nature of the costs and benefits and their methodological approach. In general, the models have tended to focus on economic impacts, which are easier to quantify. They have also tended to ignore social impacts, which are harder to measure and thus less visible.

The key to overcoming a gambling addiction is to replace it with healthy behaviors. Identify what triggers your urge to gamble and try to avoid those situations. If you are unable to resist temptation, try to find other ways of relieving unpleasant feelings or recharging your batteries, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, taking up new hobbies or practicing relaxation techniques. You can also seek support from a peer group, such as Gamblers Anonymous.