From the national lottery to betting on the football, there are lots of different types of gambling.
As such a normalised part of our culture, it’s easy to see gambling as something quite innocuous. But that hides the truth of how damaging it can be not only to your finances but also to your mental health and relationships.
In recent years the government has recognised the harm that gambling – and gambling addiction in particular – can do. Organisations like betting shops now have to include tools to help people cut down on their habit. This might include setting a limit on how much you can spend or having the option to temporarily freeze your account and get some breathing space.
These things can help, but won’t necessarily be enough if you feel that gambling is having a negative impact on your life. Some signs that you need to get support to stop gambling could include:
- Spending money that you need for other essential purchases, such as bills and food
- Borrowing money from friends or family in order to use it for gambling
- Getting into debt that you can’t repay because of gambling activity
- Lying to people you care about your activity
- Getting into arguments with your loved ones because of it.
If you’re starting to think that your gambling habit might be a problem, then you can try this more in-depth questionnaire from the NHS. It will give you a score based on the answers you give, and help you determine when it’s time to get help.
When thinking about gambling, remember that it’s not just the obvious activities such as betting or spending time in casinos that you need to be wary of. Other activity such as day trading with stocks and shares – something that’s become more popular with the rise of internet stock trading culture – can also be seen as a form of gambling. So factor this in when evaluating your behaviour.
Gambling addiction is recognised as a medical issue, so one option is to speak to your GP about ways of getting health. They may be able to refer you for cognitive behavioural therapy, and can also discuss other ways in which gambling might impact your health – like causing stress.
You can also approach GamCare, the leading UK charity offering support in this area. You can talk to them about your concerns via a phone call, live chat or even on WhatsApp. There are also group chats available, if you would like to hear from people who have gone through similar experiences. They can help you find local treatment options, or offer links and downloads to a self-help recovery toolkit designed to help you cut down gambling or stop entirely.
The GamCare blog also provides a rich source of information about how gambling can affect your health, relationships and money. For instance, if you’ve ever wondered whether gambling can be seen on your credit report, they have you covered. Even if you’re not ready to get help yet, it’s a great way to understand more about gambling.
Remember, this type of addiction is not a reflection on your character – so you don’t need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. It’s an issue that many people struggle with, and seeking support at the right time can help you to stop things from spiralling out of control.