Support for gambling addiction
Gaming is a popular and addictive form of entertainment for many people around the world. They can bring joy, challenge and social interaction. However, for some people, gaming can become a problem that negatively impacts their lives.
Gambling addiction is a condition where a person is unable to control their gambling behaviour and continues to play despite serious consequences for their health, personal relationships, school or work. Gambling addiction can lead to stress, depression, anxiety, guilt, loneliness and isolation.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a gambling problem, there is no need to feel ashamed or hopeless. There are ways to help yourself and get professional support. In this article, we’ll tell you about what gambling addiction is, how to identify and treat it, and additional resources where you can get help in Australia.
What is gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction is a disorder of control over gambling activities that leads to gambling becoming a priority over other interests and activities. Gambling activities can be online or offline, digital or video.
Gambling addiction can take different forms and severity depending on the type of game, time spent playing, and personal factors of the player. The most common types of gambling activities that can cause gambling addiction are:
- Online games, such as MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), MOBAs (massively multiplayer online battle arena games), FPS (first-person shooters), and others. These games have a high level of social interaction, competition, and constant development.
- Offline video games, such as console or computer games that have an exciting storyline, graphics, and gameplay. These games can create strong emotional engagement and a sense of achievement.
- Slot machines, lotteries, casinos, sports betting and other forms of gambling. These games have a high risk of losing money and excessive hope of winning. This can lead to financial problems and debt traps.
How to recognize gambling addiction?
Many people who have a problem with gambling do not want to or cannot admit it. Therefore, gambling addiction often goes unnoticed or ignored. However, there are some indicators and signs that can make it clear that a person is suffering from a gambling addiction. Among them:
- Loss of control over the time or amount of play
- Abandonment of other interests, hobbies, or responsibilities
- Neglecting personal hygiene, eating, or sleeping because of the game
- Unwillingness to stop gaming, even if it is detrimental to health, relationships, school or work
- Experiencing distressing symptoms such as irritation, sadness, or nervousness when the game ends or is not available
- Needing to play more or harder to get pleasure or prevent boredom
- Lying about the amount of time spent playing or hiding the game from others
- Using gaming as a way to cope with negative emotions or problems
- Conflicts or breakdowns with family, friends or partners because of gaming
- You try to stop trying to play but your attempts are unsuccessful
You may be interested in learning more about the DSM 5 diagnostic criteria.
How to protect yourself from gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction can be prevented or controlled if you follow some tips and tricks. Here are some of them:
- Set yourself limits on the time or amount of play and stick to them. You can use timers, alarms, or apps that block access to the game after a certain time.
- Balance your gaming hobby with other hobbies, hobbies or activities. Find alternative sources of enjoyment, development and socialisation, such as sports, art, reading, volunteering or studying.
- Keep your health and well-being in mind. Follow a sleep, diet and physical activity routine. Avoid playing games before bed as this can disrupt your sleep quality. Try not to play on an empty stomach or when you are tired. Take breaks every 30-60 minutes to relax your eyes, arms and back.
- Be honest with yourself and others about your gambling behaviour. Do not hide or deny your problem if you have one. Share your feelings and difficulties with someone you trust, such as a relative, friend, partner or counsellor.
- Seek professional help if you are unable to cope with your gambling problem on your own. There are different treatments and resources that can help you.
How to cure gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that can have different causes and consequences for each person. Therefore, there is no universal treatment method that works for everyone. However, there are some common treatments that can be effective for many people. These include:
- Psychotherapy. This is the process of talking to a trained professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who can help you understand your emotions, thoughts and behaviours related to your gambling problem. The therapist may use different approaches and techniques, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing, family therapy or group therapy, to help you change your gambling behaviour, improve your health and address your problems.
- Medication. This is the prescription of medications that can help you reduce or control symptoms associated with gambling, such as anxiety, depression, compulsivity or withdrawal symptoms. Medications can only be prescribed by a psychiatrist after assessing your condition and medical history. Medications cannot cure gambling addiction, but they can help to alleviate its effects and promote recovery.
- Self-help. This is the use of various strategies and resources that can help you cope with gambling addiction on your own. Self-help can include reading books, articles, or blogs about gambling, using online programs or apps that provide information, advice, and support, and participating in online or offline communities or self-help groups such as OLG-Anon (On-Line Gamers Anonymous), Game Quitters, or others. Self-help can be helpful in preventing or controlling gambling addiction, but it is not always sufficient to cure it.
If you are looking for more help with gambling addiction in Australia, you can refer to the following resources:
|Headspace||A national organisation that provides psychological help to young people aged 12 to 25. They have centres all over the country where you can get free counselling for gambling addiction or other problems. They also have an online service, eheadspace, where you can talk to a psychologist online or by phone.||https://headspace.org.au/
1800 650 890
|ReachOut||An online platform that provides information, advice and support to young people on a range of issues, including gambling addiction. You can read articles, watch videos, take quizzes or join a forum where you can talk to other people who have similar problems or experiences.||https://au.reachout.com/|
|Gambling Help Online||An online service that provides free and confidential help for people suffering from gambling or gaming addiction. You can get online advice, initiation, email or telephone support from trained professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also find useful resources such as self-tests, self-help, success stories and links to other services.||https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/
1800 858 858
|Game Quitters||An international community of people who want to stop or control their gambling behaviour. They provide online programmes, courses, podcasts, webinars and other resources that can help you overcome your gambling addiction or improve your life. They also have an active forum where you can get support from other members of the community.||https://gamequitters.com/|
|Gamblers Anonymous Australia||A support community that helps people recover from gambling addiction in Australia.||https://gaaustralia.org.au/|
|Lifeline||24/7 support for any personal problems||13 11 14|
|Australian government aid for gambling||Visit for more information and resources from Australian government||https://aifs.gov.au/resources/resource-sheets/gambling-help|
What can cause gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction can have different causes for different people. However, there are some common factors that can contribute to the development of gambling addiction. These include:
- Biological factors. This is a genetic predisposition to addiction or a malfunction of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine or serotonin. These chemicals affect our mood, motivation, and pleasure. Games can stimulate their release, creating feelings of euphoria, excitement, or reward. Over time, the brain can adapt to this stimulus, requiring more play to get the same effect. This can lead to tolerance, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms.There may also be problems associated with compulsive gambling.
- Psychological factors. These are personality traits, emotional states or mental disorders that can increase the risk of gambling addiction. For example, people with low self-esteem, sensation seeking, impulsivity, attention deficit, or hyperactivity may be more prone to gambling addiction. Also, people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other psychological problems may use games as a way to cope with negative emotions or avoid reality.
- Social factors. This is the influence of the environment, culture, or group on gambling behaviour. For example, people who have low levels of social support, loneliness, or conflicts with family, friends, or partners may seek social interaction and belonging in games. Also, people who are subject to peer pressure or social norms may play more to meet expectations or improve their status in the group.