Gambling addiction: symptoms, tips for quitting

Many people like to gamble occasionally. Gambling takes many forms, from buying a state lottery ticket to gambling at the slot machine or playing cards for money. Usually it is a harmless pastime. Things become different when you can no longer do without the thrill that gambling can give you. You are a gambling addict! Debts can pile up and work or school and friends are neglected. Gambling, what is it and what can you do about it?

Different ways of gambling

There are two main groups of gambling;

  • short odds
  • long odds

The difference is in the time between the game and the payout of the winnings. People generally find it more exciting if the time between betting the money and the outcome is short. The risk of this form is that you want to bet again and again, just to win once, or again.

Examples of short-odds games

  • roulette
  • scratch cards
  • fruit machines
  • horse racing
  • card games
  • dice games

Examples of long-odds games

  • Postcode lottery
  • State Lottery
  • Lotto
  • Toto
  • Betting

Some symptoms of gambling addiction

  • Constantly thinking about gambling and not being able to resist the urge
  • Always trying to regain the losses previously made
  • Spending more and more money and time on gambling than previously planned
  • Not being able to stop gambling yourself, or reduce the number of hours you spend on it
  • Trying to keep the addiction a secret from those around you
  • Lying about gambling
  • Neglecting social contacts
  • Missing work or school and spending time gambling
  • Debts are increasing because money is being borrowed again and again
  • Theft or committing fraud to pay debts and gambling

Withdrawal symptoms stop gambling

  • Feeling unhappy if one cannot gamble
  • Feeling restless
  • Get irritated easily
  • Feeling guilty and/or anxious
  • Getting bored
  • Depression
  • Headache complaints
  • Shivering
  • Insomnia
  • Perspire
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Sometimes memory loss

Tips to stop gambling

  • Realize that you lose money more often than you win money
  • Avoid situations where you can gamble and leave your debit card at home
  • Deregister from gambling halls and casinos
  • Try to gain insight and control over your gambling behavior
  • Realize that you have no influence on the game, the winning percentages are already fixed
  • Seek help, but it almost never works
  • Have someone else manage your money and make agreements about borrowing
  • Think about what you can do with the money if you don’t gamble it away
  • Follow individual therapy
  • Attend group therapy

Seeking help for gambling addiction

Go to the doctor first. This person can possibly refer you to social work, a psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or an institution for mental health care, such as the Riagg. In the big cities there is an institution for addiction care such as the Consultation Bureau for Alcohol and Drugs, where you can also get advice and help for gambling addiction.