Gambling addiction is when you experience an impulse to gamble, regardless of the consequences. You may know that the odds are against you or you can’t afford to lose but the impulse is difficult to ignore. Gambling doesn’t, however, need to be an addiction to be a problem. Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts your life in some way.
One of the most common results of a gambling addiction or gambling problems is loss of money and debt. Financial problems can mount up as a result of unpaid bills and loans taken out to cover gambling debts. Often the temptation is to continue gambling in order to win back the money to pay the debts but, more often than not, this results in a vicious cycle.
The negative affects of gambling also extend beyond financial problems:
- Relationships with family and friends may suffer under the strain of the time and money spent gambling
- Preoccupation with gambling may mean less time and interest spend on recreational pursuits and hobbies resulting in feelings of social isolation.
- Gamblers are more likely to suffer from stress-related disorders, low self-esteem, poor sleep, reduced appetite, depression, mood swings and substance misuse problems.
- Difficulties focusing on work or education can cause output to suffer and increased absenteeism.
Reasons for gambling vary from person to person. You may see no obvious reason for your gambling behaviour at all and yet stopping that behaviour doesn’t seem like an option.
Moving out of gambling
Recognising your gambling addiction or problem is a significant first step. Below are some practical steps that you can take to start to address the issue:
- Limit the amount of money you spend gambling – You may set yourself limit at the start of the week or set up a betting account and ask for a limit to be placed on it.
- Reduce the amount of time and days that you gamble – Set a limit to how many days a week you will gamble and/or the amount of time you spend on each occasion.
- Spend time doing other activities – Spending time with family and friends or taking parting in recreational activities can help to occupy your time and take your focus away from gambling.
- Put in place positive motivators – These are things that you are looking forward to, such as a day out with friends or a holiday with family.
- Download blocking software to your computer and/or mobile phone – This is software designed to block or limit access to gambling websites or sites of your choice.
- Self exclusion – This is when you ask a gambling operator to exclude you from gambling with them for a set period of time. For further details about self-exclusion go to http://optintoselfexclude.info/index.php/home/
- Manage debts - When it comes to pay day prioritise debts first and, if necessary, seek professional debt management advice to help you to move out of debt.
The University Counselling Service is available for students and staff of the University of Warwick. http://www.warwick.ac.uk/counselling/
Medical support and information can be obtained from GP practices of health centres
Useful links for more support/information:
The University of Warwick cannot be responsible for the content of other websites.
Overcoming Compulsive Gambling:
A self-help guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques