Recognizing and Preventing Compulsive Gambling

Online and brick-and-mortar casinos are fun, but a gambling addiction can lead to serious problems. Gambling addiction affects people of all ages, but is most prevalent amount adults between the ages of 18 to 24.

Identifying A Gambling Addiction

Compulsive gambling is an impulse control disorder that is characterized by excessive gambling even when activity is hurting a person’s finances or relationships. The person may be preoccupied with gambling, which causes the person to think about gambling non-stop. Some signs of compulsive gambling include:

• Lying to your friends or family members about how much time or money you spend gambling.

• Gambling when you can’t afford the activity. Compulsive gamblers may stop paying their bills in order to gamble.

• Increasing your bets in order to win back lost money, or being unable to walk away from gambling. You may spend your last dollar gambling because you feel compelled to continue.

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Compulsive gamblers may spend hours each day gambling on the activity, which can cause the person to neglect important relationships and other responsibilities. Any time that gambling causes a problem, whether by taking too much of your time or by causing financial problems, consider seeking help.

Gambling Responsibly

Gambling responsibly is an option that can help you avoid problems. For instance, you limit the amount of time you spend on gambling each day and set a gambling budget for each week. If you have difficulty sticking to your budget, step away from gambling to determine whether there is a problem.

It is also important to listen to your loved ones if they begin to express concern abut your gambling activities. Loved ones are often the first to recognize an addiction. If you have trouble limiting the amounts spent on gambling, consider abstaining from the activity. If you think that a loved one is suffering from compulsive gambling, avoid temporary solutions like paying their debts. Instead, talk to your loved one about your concerns, and suggest treatment options that may work for their lifestyle.

When to Seek Help

If you are struggling in any aspect of your life as a result of gambling, seeking help from a professional is the best choice available. Options can include community-based support groups or therapy. Addiction treatment programs are also available. It is important to learn how to deal with daily stress in order to control compulsive gambling. Therapy and treatment programs can help you develop strategies to manage stress effectively, while support groups offer you a network of people in your community who can help you stop gambling.

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