Gambling addiction can often be easily overlooked as a result of misconceptions of what it actually involves.
A particular misconception is the view that people can only become addicted to a substance and not an activity. A person who is addicted to gambling will not experience the side effects linked to taking a substance, and thus they are not always seen as true addicts. In reality, however, when people gamble they experience the same chemical changes in the brain that occur when certain drugs are taken.
Due to common misconceptions and being a 'hidden illness', gambling addiction is often misunderstood. This can add to the difficulty in understanding what it means to be a compulsive gambler, and can even undermine the urgency of treatment. This misunderstanding may also cause people to ignore or avoid the signs of gambling addiction in the ones they love
- Are you spending more time and money on gambling than you can afford?
- Are you finding it hard to manage or stop your gambling?
- Are you increasingly taking larger risks to satisfy your urge to gamble?
- Are you losing interest in usual activities and hobbies?
- Is gambling constantly on your mind?
- Do you gamble until all of your money is gone?
- Are you feeling constantly anxious, irritable, guilty or depressed?
- Do you feel the need to be secretive and lie about your gambling?
- Do you gamble even when you don't have the money?
- Have family and friends expressed their concerns?
How Counselling can help you
A key aspect that counselling focuses on is the triggers of the addiction - what it is that compels you to compulsively gamble even when they are aware of the negative consequences. Understanding the reason behind gambling urges - whether it's to numb unpleasant feelings, solve money problems, escape stress or simply out of boredom or loneliness - can help you to focus on healthier and more constructive ways of coping, without having to resort to gambling. It equips them with the necessary tools and support to reframe thoughts and behaviours for the long-term.