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Gambling addiction

Most people who bet don’t have a gambling problem, but some people become compulsive gamblers at some point in their life. People in this group lose control of their betting, often with serious consequences.

Others don’t know when to stop. They progress to pathological gambling, which can be a form of addiction.

People with a gambling addiction can’t control their urge to gamble, even if they are losing a lot of money. They are willing to risk something of value in the hope that the return will be more valuable.

If you are addicted to gambling, the consequences can include financial losses, bankruptcy, homelessness and the breakdown of personal relationships. They can be serious not only for you, but also for members of your family, and for your friends and associates.

If you are caring for someone with an addiction, it is important that you also continue to look after yourself. Visit the Carer Gateway website or call 1800 422 737 (Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm) for more information.

Does someone I know have a gambling addiction?

There are warning signs that gambling has become a problem for someone you know. They may include:

  • missing money or household valuables
  • borrowing money regularly
  • having multiple loans
  • unpaid bills
  • lack of food and household essentials
  • withdrawing from family or at work
  • changes in personality or mood
  • conflict with others
  • feelings of helplessness, depression, or feeling suicidal
  • unexplained absences from important events or commitments.

Do I have a gambling addiction?

If you have a gambling addiction, you are likely to experience some of the following:

  • the need to gamble with more and more money to achieve a feeling of excitement
  • constant thoughts about gambling
  • repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop or rein in gambling
  • irritability or restlessness if you try to stop gambling
  • resorting to gambling as a way of coping with anxiety or depression, or feelings of helplessness or guilt
  • 'chasing' losses: gambling to win back what has been lost, particularly after heavy losses
  • lying to cover up the extent of your gambling
  • losing a relationship or job because of gambling
  • relying on others for financial support after heavy gambling losses.

People with gambling addiction may be more likely than others to think about or attempt suicide.

Why do people keep gambling?

Nobody knows for sure, but it is likely that many different factors play a part.

One is that society condones gambling, and sees it as a part of normal life. That makes it very hard for people with a problem to keep away from it.

Another is that there may be chemical changes in the brain, similar to those seen in people addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Where to get help with gambling addiction

Certain types of psychological therapy, for example cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), may help someone overcome gambling addiction.

Cognitive behavioural therapy involves looking at the logic behind gambling such as the odds of winning, beliefs about luck and skill in non-skills-based games, and the likelihood of 'chasing' one's way back to financial security.

Psychological therapies can also address underlying problems such as anxiety, depression or social isolation.

Some gamblers may find financial counseling helpful in offering alternatives to gambling as a way to financial recovery.

If you think that you or someone you know may have a gambling addiction, speak to your doctor in the first instance. If needed, your doctor can provide a referral to a psychologist.

Last reviewed: July 2016

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Problem Gambling

For many, gambling is a popular pastime. Pokies, lotto, scratchies, card games, racing, and other forms of betting are forms of gambling prominent in Australia. Gambling is fun to do from time to time, but for others it can get out of hand and cause distress and financial problems.

Read more on Lifeline website

Support for problem gambling

Seek support for problem gambling and learn the warning signs, real odds of winning, and how to self-exclude.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Problem gambling and depression

This fact sheet looks at the links between depression and gambling problems, and highlights some ways to identify gambling problems and seek help and treatment.

Read more on beyondblue website

What is Problem Gambling?

Gambling is a popular pastime in Australia, including the pokies, lotto, instant scratchies, cards, racing or online betting. Many people have fun gambling now and again, but sometimes it can get out of hand and become a cause for distress and financial hardship.

Read more on Lifeline website

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Quitting a gambling addiction isnt easy, but there are a lot of support services available if you think you have a problem with it.

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Gambling

Almost everyone gambles from time to time. However, gambling can become a problem for some people when they have trouble setting limits on the time and money involved.

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Gambling | At Ease for Veterans

This page will help you recognise the signs when you are worried about gambling and what you can do about them using self-help options or seeking help from others.

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Pathological gambling | myVMC

Pathological gambling is a inpulse-control disorder

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What is CBT | CRUfAD

CONTACT US OUR LOCATION CRUfAD What is CBT Why choose ADC How do I get started Book an assessment For Clinicians What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? WHAT IS CBT? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a method of treatment for psychological disorders that takes a practical, task-based approach to solving problems

Read more on CRUfAD – Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression website

What is CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) | THIS WAY UP

What Is CBT? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a method of treatment for psychological disorders, that takes a practical, task-based approach to solving problems

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