Gambling is prevalent within our society and can take many forms. Some common forms of gambling include VLT’s, poker, casino games, and bingo. It also includes other things that we might not think of as gambling such as raffle tickets, and some video games. It is anything that gives you that feeling of ‘I hope I win’. In fact, it is the feeling of ‘I hope I win’ that people become addicted to, not winning itself.What is compulsive gambling?
Compulsive gambling is a progressive disorder characterized by a continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling; a preoccupation with gambling and obtaining money with which to gamble; irrational thinking; and a continuation of the behaviour despite adverse consequences.
Whether playing a game of poker with some friends, buying a raffle ticket from a family member, having an evening out at bingo, or buying a lotto ticket hoping for the big win, it’s all forms of gambling. Gambling often starts out innocent and fun, where people spend an amount of money they can afford, and it is their entertainment and excitement for the evening. For many this is as far as gambling goes, for others these behaviours progress into something more serious. Some people begin to start spending more time and money gambling. Their thoughts become consumed with gambling. They think about how they will get money to gamble, when and where they can gamble, and what they will do with their winnings. People in this stage of gambling, often cover up and lie about their gambling behaviours, and money spent. This may affect their work, and their family lives. People may turn to illegal activities to afford their gambling habits. These actions can lead to feelings of remorse, panic, and hopelessness. For some their gambling addictions can lead to divorce, arrests, and even suicide, as suicide is higher with gambling than any other addiction.For some an increase in gambling behaviours is temporary and associated with stress, but once their gambling becomes an issue they are able to curb the behavior. This is known as a periodic problematic behavior. For others there is no control and the behaviour becomes an addiction.
Whatever stage of gambling you are in there is help available, and early intervention is beneficial. Please see treatment options listed in this section, and if you feel your gambling might be problematic please complete our self-screener.
Gambling Addiction tends to have a negative impact on all areas of a person’s life. You may be experiencing problem gambling if you:
- Spend more time or money on gambling than anticipated
- Fell a compulsive need to try and win back losses
- Borrow money or sell items to get money for gambling
- Are hiding the amount of time and money gambling
- Miss time from work or school
- Argue with family and friends about gambling
- Notice a decrease in your Mental Health/mood
- Decrease in Financial Stability
- Increased Suicidal thoughts/actions
- Decrease in Self-care such as; sleeping, eating, and exercise
If you are concerned you have an issue with gambling here are some things you can do to help:
- Attend Doorways Walk-in counselling service https://nl.bridgethegapp.ca/adult/service-directory/doorways-walk-in-clinic-counselling/
- Seek community based counselling services (Can be accessed through Doorways)
- Get help for other comorbid addictions/ mental health issues
- Attend 12 step programs such as Gamblers Anonymous (GA), all Addictions Anonymous (AAA), and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
- Call the Gambling Information Line 1-888-899-4357 (HELP)
- Do a self screening on CheckItOut to better assess your gambling habits https://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/western-health
- IF you feel as though you have tried counselling but feel you need more intensive treatment, talk with a community based counsellor about a Humberwood inpatient treatment application.
If you are already making changes to stop your gambling habits, here are some tips to help you be successful.
- Avoiding any place that resembles the location where you previously wagered.
- Minimize Substance Use
- Minimizing stress.
- Create as much space between you and gambling venues as possible.
- Moderate conversations about gambling. Reminiscing about past gambling experiences can increase cravings.
- Try to relax. It is difficult to be stimulated about gambling when relaxed.
- Increase structured activity to avoid boredom (ex: join clubs, reading groups, attend 12 step meetings, etc.).
- Substitute a pleasant event for gambling. When you feel the urge to gamble participate in a fun activity and use this as a reward for not gambling.
If you are concerned that someone you care about is expressing problematic gambling behaviours it can be difficult to know what to do. It is important to remember that you cannot force someone to make changes, and pushing someone too hard can have the reverse affect. It is important to let your loved one know that you are there for them and willing to listen. Since having a loved one with an addiction can be stressful, you may wish to seek services to help support yourself, as well as learn how to best support your loved one. If you feel like you would benefit from this support please reach out to your local Mental Health and addictions services, which can be accessed through Doorways. https://nl.bridgethegapp.ca/adult/service-directory/service_directory_tag/mental-health-info/