How do you know if you have a gambling problem?
A breakdown of the facts on gambling
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
For some, they can gamble on the odd occasion and not experience addition. But for others, gambling can become a habit that can be as dangerous as drugs or alcohol. There are lots of different ways to gamble, and as gambling is becoming easier with many apps and websites devoted to it, it is also getting more dangerous as it is high addictive and accessible 24/7. Here’s what you should know about gambling.
What is gambling?
Gambling is a game of chance where you bet money on the outcome. There are lots of different types of gambling: online games, slot machines, playing the lottery, and placing bets in a bookmaker’s are some of the most common. These days, all of those types are also available in online games, where it’s very easy to play—and to lose.
Do I have a gambling problem?
If you think you have a gambling problem, it’s important to recognise it and seek help. Ask yourself these things:
- Do you find it hard to stop gambling, even if you’re losing a lot of money?
- Do you think or talk about gambling constantly, to the point that it’s distracting?
- Are you trying to hide your gambling from family and friends, or lie about how much you lose?
- Are you borrowing money or selling possessions, or avoiding paying other things in order to gamble more?
- Does gambling affect your moods a lot? Are you anxious, depressed, nervous, or worried a lot because of your gambling?
Answering yes to any or all of these questions does not necessarily mean you have a gambling addiction, but you may have a problem that it’s important to be aware of, or you may need to talk to someone about it. Find out more about the signs of a gambling addiction here.
The Gamblers Anonymous website also has a self-test questionnaire you can fill out to find out more.
What should I do if I think I have a gambling addiction?
The very first and most important step is admitting to yourself that you may have a problem. This may take some time, but the sooner you accept it the sooner you can seek help. Recovery is possible no matter how big the problem seems.
Open up to someone
Telling someone you trust can really help you come to grips with your gambling. If you don’t have a friend or family member you feel like you can be honest with, there are also a number of free and confidential hotlines where you can speak to someone who can help you.
Ask for help
Be willing to let people help you—whether that’s helping you to control your money, going to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, or just helping you talk through your feelings, you don’t need to do everything by yourself.
Avoid locations and situations in which you might be tempted to gamble
You can’t break those bad habits if you’re not changing anything, so stay away from those triggers—walk home a different way if you normally pass a betting shop; don’t hang out with friends who encouraged you to gamble, etc.
Take things one day at a time, and don’t expect to be able to stop right away. Gambling is a compulsive behaviour, so it’s hard to stop for a lot of reasons. Remember to be gentle with yourself while you re-learn good habits.
There are a number of services you can turn to. Read about them here.
For more information and for problem gambling resources:
- Gamblers Anonymous hold meetings around the country.
- Samaritans also provide confidential advice and help. You can call them on 116 123.
- Find a full list of support services here.
Feeling overwhelmed and want to talk to someone?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.