What is a gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction differs from gambling in the same way that controlled drinking differs from alcoholism. In gambling addiction, like any other addiction, gambling has reached a point where it is out of control, despite the damages being caused through compulsive gambling.

How do I know whether I have a gambling problem?

The first step to getting help for your gambling problem is determining whether you have a gambling problem. Below is the Gamblers Anonymous 20-question test to determine whether the signs/symptoms of addiction exist.

  1. Have you ever lost time from work or school due to gambling?
  2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
  4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  5. Have you ever gambled to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  6. Has gambling caused a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  7. After losing have you felt you had to return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  8. After a win have you had a strong urge to return and win more?
  9. Have you often gambled until your last rand was gone?
  10. Have you ever borrowed to finance your gambling?
  11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  12. Have you been reluctant to use ‘gambling money’ for normal expenditures?
  13. Has gambling made you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
  14. Have you ever gambled longer than you had planned?
  15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
  16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  17. Has gambling caused you to have difficulty sleeping?
  18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
  19. Have you ever had an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

As a general rule of thumb, if you answer 7 or more questions with a ‘yes’, you should seek assessment or treatment.

How do I get help for myself or my loved one?

The first step in getting help is finding out whether you have a problem. A trained clinical psychologist can effectively perform a professional assessment, which will identify whether you have any problem areas, and will recommend the treatment most appropriate for you if necessary.

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