Problem Gambling - What Is It?

Problem Gambling

Gambling addiction, also referred to as compulsive gambling, is a recognised disorder. People that are afflicted with a gambling addiction cannot control their impulse to gamble, even if they know their behaviour is hurting themselves and the ones they love.

There are many interpretations of compulsive gambling. A compulsive gambler is described as a person whose gambling has caused growing and continuing problems in any area of his or her life.

Gambling addicts are constantly thinking about gambling, regardless of the consequences, their circumstances, or their own mood. Even when facing the most statistically unlikely odds to win, those suffering from a gambling addition cannot stop themselves having a bet.

There are some people, however, that are not compulsive gamblers but do fit the characteristics of a problem gambler. These types of individuals allow gambling to disrupt their lives and they often chase losses or increasingly allow gambling to take over their lives.

Recognising That You Have A Problem

Because there are no obvious physical signs, gambling addiction is often referred to as a hidden illness. Problem gamblers will often deny they have a problem when confronted about it. Because of this, it's often hard to see signs of a gambling problem or addiction.

As well as impatience with your loved ones, mood swings, withdrawing from social circles, and constantly being late for work due to long sessions of gambling, there are some tell-tale signs that you may have a gambling problem:

Your Family And Friends Tell You That They Are Worried About You

If people close to you are telling you that they are concerned for your well-being, it's time to take a good hard look in the mirror. There is no shame in asking for help and talking to a friend about the road you are going down. It's never too late to make changes in life.

You Have Trouble Controlling Your Gambling Activities

If you start a gaming session, are you able to walk away if you hit your stop loss? Are you always able to get up and leave when your session is over or do you chase losses? Are you ever increasing your bets to make up losses? These are all signs you may a problem.

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Escape To Other Excesses (Alcohol, Drugs, Sleep)

Addiction to gambling often doesn't stop at gambling - sufferers may turn to drink or drugs to cope with the effects of their problem.

Gambling Regardless Of How Much Money You Have

Once you gamble away all your cash, do you head straight to the ATM for extra dollars? Are you hitting the payday loan firms or maxing out the credit card to feed the gambling accounts? Are you losing track completely of how much you've bet, won and lost? Getting a grip of your financial problems is the first thing to tackle when you discover you have a gambling problem.

Lying To Yourself And Others

Do you lie about your whereabouts to loved ones so you can sneak away for time at the tables? This is one of the first signs that you might have a problem.

Getting Help In Australia

Every person is unique and needs a recovery program specific to their needs. What might work for one problem gambler may not work for another. The biggest step in treatment is simply realising that there is a problem. Recovery is possible if you stick with treatment and allow yourself to be a part of a support system.

There are several organisations in Oz that can help you if you think you may have a problem with gambling.

Relationships Australia has two specialist programs called Break Even and Gambler's Help devoted to problem gambling. There's more information at

The most commonly used treatment program available, however, is Gamblers Anonymous. It's a twelve step recovery program recovery patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous.

Part of the twelve step program is choosing a sponsor, possibly a former gambler who has experience recovering from addiction. These sponsors play a pivotal role for guidance and support through the program. You can get more info from the Australian wing's website:

The Australian government run the helpful and informative, which includes a great 'Resource Kit' with downloadable documents for family and friends.

Regional Problem Gambling Sites

The following offer region-specific advice and resources for Australians: