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Recognising the Signs of Gambling Addiction

Gambling is the wagering of something of value, usually money, on an event with an uncertain outcome. It can be a problem when it is done to control unpleasant emotions, such as boredom, stress or anxiety or to escape from family problems. It can also lead to serious debts. It is important to recognise the signs and seek professional help if you think you have a gambling addiction.

Talking with a counsellor about your feelings is an important step in breaking the cycle of gambling. Counselling can be face-to-face or virtual, individual or group. It is confidential within legal limits and may be covered by health insurance. Counselling can help you identify the root cause of your gambling behaviour and develop strategies to cope with it. You can find a counsellor by searching online, contacting your health insurance provider or calling the National Council on Problem Gambling for a referral.

It is also helpful to try and replace gambling with another activity. You could start exercising, joining a book club, taking a yoga class, or volunteering in your community to socialise and have fun. It is important to address any underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or stress as these can contribute to gambling problems and are made worse by it.

You can also encourage your loved one to get help by letting them know that you are concerned and care about them and your relationship. You might ask if they would like to try self-help strategies, peer support or treatment for gambling addiction.