How to know if you have a gambling addiction or problem

Problem gambling can be difficult to recognise and hard to discuss. The lines between gambling for entertainment and a gambling addiction are not easy to see, meaning that problem gambling is commonly excused or downplayed.

The hidden nature of gambling addiction, also known as gambling disorder, means it is often only close family, partners, confidants or gamblers themselves who recognise how extreme the situation has become. Those with significant income or net worth can hide a habit more easily, however this does not provide a buffer to the psychological and relational stress, agitation, and brokenness that accompanies breaches of trust. Sadly, an addiction to gambling can remain overlooked until the business, house, car, school or university funds, or even retirement savings become significantly eroded or are at risk of being lost.

When gambling habits become a problem, there can be a tendency to downplay the issues in our mind. This is a common human reaction that has the emotional benefit of making us feel better for a short period of time. However, this type of thinking also has the effect of entrenching the stress and behaviour concerns.

We minimise or deny the problems by thinking thoughts like, “I could stop this if I wanted”, “This isn’t a major problem”, “Other people are much worse gamblers”, “My actions aren’t hurting anyone”, “People should accept me as I am”, or “Who are they to judge”.   The problem with this type of thinking is that while it soothes the immediate surface stress, it also paralyses our capacity to do something real about the issues. By avoiding the immediate emotional unrest of acknowledging we need help, we entrench an incapacity to make significant change in our lives which can lead to depression, anxiety, anger, separation and breakdown.

For individuals with large disposable incomes, the costs of financial disruption due to gambling addiction may be manageable but the emotional, mental, and relational issues weigh heavily.  In order to address the heath and relational stressors arising from gambling addictions, it’s imperative to seek professional help.

If you are not sure if you have a gambling addiction, the following questions are helpful.

In the last year, have you experienced any of the following?

  1. Have you needed to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement?
  2. Have you felt restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
  3. Have you made repeated and unsuccessful efforts to cut back, control or stop gambling?
  4. Have you often been preoccupied with gambling? This may have included reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble.
  5. Have you gambled when feeling distressed, anxious, stressed, lonely, guilty or depressed?
  6. Have you lost money gambling and returned another day to get even or chase your losses?
  7. Have you lied to conceal your gambling?
  8. Have you jeopardised or lost a job, asset, significant relationship, or career opportunity because of gambling?
  9. Have you approached others or relied on them to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling?

If you answered yes to 4 or more of these, you may be at risk of having a gambling disorder based on the DSM¬5 Diagnostic Criteria for Gambling Disorder.

If so, it is important to contact a health professional who can assess you and provide treatment options. We recommend Addiction Sciences Queensland.

Gambling addiction can be treated in a range of ways, including pharmacotherapies, psychological support and integrated care.

In the same way that we seek health treatments when we have a serious physical sickness, disorders such as gambling addiction also require a place of healing and recovery. The Banyans Health and Wellness provides an integrated biopsychosocial approach, treating your physical health, psychological wellbeing, and social wellness. The Banyans Wellness Residence provides you or a loved one integrated support to find freedom from addictions and disorders. The therapeutic environment of serenity, peace, and luxury, with caring support, helps you to overcome gambling addictions.

Designed for integrated restoration, and with an expert team of addiction medicine specialists, therapists, health practitioners and wellness coaches, The Banyans Health and Wellness Residence is a place where body and soul prosper in an environment of rest, wellness, and inspired living.

Call us now on 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926) or email welcome@thebanyans.com.au for a confidential discussion about how you or someone you care about can benefit from The Banyans.