How to Recognise a Gambling Disorder


Whether you’re buying a lottery ticket, betting on sports events or playing pokies, gambling involves placing something of value on the outcome of an event that is based on chance. While most people gamble for fun, it can become a problem if someone is unable to control their spending or becomes addicted. If you or a loved one has a gambling problem, there are several ways to get help.

In general, a person has a gambling disorder if they engage in the following behaviors:

Gambles to avoid financial or emotional distress. Needs to gamble more and more to feel the same level of excitement. Often lies to conceal the extent of their involvement in gambling or to avoid facing problems caused by their addiction. Needs to rely on others for money to finance his or her gambling habit. Has jeopardized a relationship, job, education or career opportunity because of his or her gambling behavior. Has resorted to illegal or unethical means to finance his or her gambling.

It is possible to overcome a gambling addiction. However, it’s important to seek help before things get out of hand. Behavioral therapy can teach you strategies to manage your urges and regain control of your finances. Some people also benefit from inpatient treatment or rehab programs, which offer round-the-clock care to help you recover.

Gambling affects the brain in a way similar to drugs of abuse. When a person gambles, their brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes them feel excited. This feeling can cause them to gamble more and more, even when they’re losing. Studies have shown that repeated exposure to gambling and uncertainty can change the reward pathways in the brain, making them more sensitive.

A good way to prevent gambling addiction is to make sure you’re only gambling for fun and not to win money. If you have a gambling addiction it’s a good idea to stay away from online gambling sites and casinos that offer bonus offers. Instead, play games that don’t involve any money, such as card and board games.

If you’re concerned that your gambling is out of control, speak to a counsellor today. Our services are free, confidential and available 24/7. Our counselling team can help you work through any issues that are causing harm in your life, such as relationships, finances and employment. You can contact us on 1300 557 443 or online. We can help you take the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle and a brighter future.