Problem Gambling and Getting Help

September 17, 2012

There are literally millions of people who enjoy the pastime of gambling, whether it is in an online casino or in the land-based environment. They do so without any difficulty whatsoever. They may not wind up winners, but they have allotted a certain amount of money for the activity, and they have come away with a healthy evening of entertainment.

However, for some people it's not all that healthy. For them, gambling is something that becomes an obsession; indeed, an addiction. There is a tremendous price to pay, not only for the problem gambler himself or herself, but for those around them. Often, the family becomes victimized by behavior that simply cannot be controlled.

Generally a person is considered a problem gambler if several conditions, from among a group of conditions, is present.

Among these conditions:

- If the gambler is preoccupied with most of their waking thoughts devoted to the act itself;

- If more and more risk is undertaken in order to achieve a certain "rush";

- If gambling is used as an escape

- If the gambler chases losses with more activity, which eventually creates more losses and a multiplication of problems;

- Pathological lying about the problem.

- An inability to stop, even when there is a desire to do so.

- Doing illegal things like stealing, forging or other fraudulent acts to feed the habit.

- Risking important things like a relationship or a career, for the sake of continuing to gamble.

- Prevailing upon those around them in order to be bailed out of trouble, at which point any number of lies can be told in order to mask the real reason.

There have been studies conducted on problem gambling and its association with suicide. In fact, one Australian hospital estimated that 17% of its suicidal patients had a gambling addiction.

There is indeed the feeling that there is no way out. And studies done on the subject that include information given by problem gamblers is often flawed, since there is a tendency to avoid telling the truth.

By far, the leading organization engaging in treatment for problem gamblers is Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled to a considerable extent on Alcoholics Anonymous, right down to its twelve-step program. The difference is that there is not necessarily an emphasis on spirituality with Gambler Anonymous as there is with Alcoholics Anonymous. People who attend GA meetings are usually those whose gambling problem is the most severe, the most uncontrollable, and has brought about the worst consequences. The program has generally met with success, but often takes a cooperative effort on the part of one's family members.

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