Problem Gambling and Addiction Guide

Discover the signs of problem gambling and learn how to get help

While roulette is usually fun and exciting, it’s important to understand that the house always has the upper hand. That’s why savvy gamblers treat all forms of gambling as entertainment rather than a way to get rich quickly.

Yet no matter how much knowledge and discipline you may personally have, some people have little control over their gambling habits. While the vast majority of Brits can enjoy their favourite games without issue, there are players out there who use gambling as an escape from the stresses of life, repeatedly risk everything trying to win back money, or simply like the rush that gambling provides.

Sadly, gambling problems can interfere with every area of life.

Fortunately, psychologists, doctors, and other mental health professionals have a greater understanding of gambling problems than ever before.

It’s also easier to safeguard yourself, spot the warning signs in those you love, and get treatment. It’s worth taking the time to read this guide now and we highly recommend you keep it handy in case you or anyone you know needs help.

While some Brits may be turned off gambling knowing that it can be addictive to some players, you’ll find that knowing the risks will help you play responsibly and have more fun in the process.

What is Problem Gambling

Despite common misconceptions, problem gambling isn’t just about losing money. Rather, the excitement and suspense of betting gets people high.

Surprisingly, that high can be as addictive to some gamblers as alcohol or drugs may be to others, and just like addictions to stimulants and depressants, gambling addictions are considered to be a medical condition. Given the nature of the disease, problem gambling can afflict people from all age groups and walks of life.

In fact, experts believe that several hundred thousand Brits have dealt with problem gambling at some point in time.

While gambling isn’t physically addictive like alcohol, both can increase the level of dopamine in the brain. Scientists now understand that physical addiction is just one piece of a larger puzzle.

In fact, all types of addicts have to deal with frequently losing control and repeating dangerous patterns even in the face of negative consequences. As you can probably guess, the increased availability of both online and offline wagering in the UK means that gambling problems are more widespread than ever before.

The good news is the signs are easier to spot and treat thanks to new research in Britain and around the globe.

How to Recognize Problem Gaming

Although gambling problems vary widely in scope and severity, there are certainly many common threads. Whether you are worried about your own gambling or the behaviour of someone you care about, it’s worth getting to know the signs and symptoms of an addiction. Spotting or acknowledging an issue is the first step in getting help.

Before we discuss the typical signs, you should know that problem gambling can be persistent or episodic. In other words, it can plague you constantly or in short spurts at a time.

In addition, a person doesn’t have to exhibit all or even a few of the signs of a gambling disorder to need treatment. If you or someone you know experiences just one of the warning signs and it’s severe enough, it’s wise to get help early.

Keep in mind that it can be hard to kick any habit on the first try, addictive or otherwise, but great treatment options are available in the United Kingdom.

12 Signs That You Might Need Help

Acknowledging that you have a gambling problem isn’t always easy, but knowing the warning signs can certainly help. If you experience any of the behaviours below, you’ll want to visit the resources listed on this page to learn more and get the treatment you deserve.

  • Raising the stakes just to achieve the same thrill as before
  • Attempting to cut back or stop gambling with little success
  • Talking repeatedly about past wins and losses as well as upcoming bets
  • Ignoring work, personal, or family responsibilities just to gamble
  • Engaging in criminal activity to support a betting habit
  • Using gambling to cope with guilt, depression, or anxiety
  • Thinking and dreaming about betting regularly
  • Borrowing money to fund a gambling habit
  • Chasing losses or returning later with the belief that it’s possible to get even
  • Lying to cover up gambling-related behaviour
  • Stealing to fund a bankroll or otherwise make up for money lost on gambling
  • Exhibiting signs of anxiety, irritability, or restlessness when attempting to quit

How to Treat Problem Gambling

If you or someone who love has a gambling problem, there are a wide variety of treatment options. The most effective approach depends on everything from the scope of your addiction to your personality type.

Interestingly enough, medical practitioners have adopted many of the approaches used to treat alcoholics and drug addicts including cognitive behavioural therapy. If you aren’t familiar with cognitive behavioural therapy, it helps you break down complex problems into more manageable parts. The best part is the treatment can often be completed in a number of weeks but requires a serious commitment on behalf of the patient.

While it’s certainly wise to speak with your doctor, there are other great resources out there. If you’re looking for help right now, you can contact the National Gambling Helpline by calling 0808 8020 133 for advice and support that’s entirely confidential. Whether you need to talk, want a referral, or require resources for an intervention with a friend, you’ll find this service to be invaluable. The National Problem Gambling Clinic is an NHS treatment centre that specialises in gambling addiction. You may be eligible for treatment if you live in England or Wales and you can refer yourself.

Also, there’s Gambler’s Anonymous, which operates similarly to the widely heralded Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step programme. Finally, all licensed online and offline casinos in the United Kingdom can direct you to treatment options and even give you the ability to bar yourself from playing.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that addicts are often in denial even when circumstances are particularly dire. In fact, many people do refuse to get help altogether. Fortunately, the experts who work at the resources listed on this page can teach you the best way to approach the people you care about and even yourself.

Getting Help

There are excellent resources and treatment options available across the United Kingdom. Just follow the links below or call the appropriate number to get the attention you need.

  • National Gambling Helpline
    Provides info, advice, and emotional support at no cost.
    Call 0808 8020 133
  • National Problem Gambling Clinic
    Conducts assessments, administers treatments and runs support groups for gambling addicts.
    Crowther Market, 282 North End Road, London, SW6 1NH
    Call: 020 7381 7722
  • Gamblers Anonymous
    Organises daily live meetings across the United Kingdom, offers online assessment tools and operates an online chat room.