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Problem Gambling

Problem gambling is an addictive behavior. It often involves someone who invests time and money on gambling despite experiencing harmful negative consequences.

 

To them, the act of gambling is a compulsive activity which they have LITTLE OR NO CONTROL OVER, OFTEN FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO STOP, due to them clinging onto the improbable fantasy of winning. Losses signify disastrous events and attempts to recoup losses eventually become an obsession.

 

For some, gambling is also used as an outlet to deal with stressful situation. This addictive behaviour may also spill over and cause unrest to those close to the gambler.

Signs and symptoms


  • Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
  • Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
  • Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
  • Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
  • Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
  • After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even ("chasing" one's losses).
  • Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
  • Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, education, or career opportunity because of gambling.
  • Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.




Factors that lead to gambling addiction


  • mental health disorders (the presence of substance abuse problems, personality disorders, emotional states)
  • age and sex (usually found in the youth and middle-aged people, and more common to men than women)
  • family or friends impact
  • personality traits
  • traumatic conditions
  • job-related stress
  • solitude
  • other addictions (i.e. drugs, smoking and alcoholism)




Consequences related to problem gambling


Problem gambling may cause very serious and lasting effects for individuals' life.

The consequences may include:

  • relationship related issues
  • problems with money, bankruptcy as well
  • legal problems, imprisonment
  • health problems
  • suicide, including suicidal thoughts and attempts




Treatment


Most treatment for problem gambling involves counseling, step-based programmes, self-help, peer-support, or a combination of these. However, no one treatment is considered to be most effective and no medications have been approved for the treatment of pathological gambling.

Step-based programmes

12 Step-based programmes such as Gambler's Anonymous are specific to gambling and generic to healing addiction, creating financial health, and improving mental wellness.

Peer support

A growing method of treatment is peer support. With the advancement of online gambling, many gamblers experiencing issues use various online peer-support groups to aid their recovery. This protects their anonymity while allowing them to attempt recovery on their own, often without having to disclose their issues to loved ones. There are also physical peer support groups which gather people with similar problems. The goal is for them to motivate each other to resolve their compulsive gambling addiction through promoting change in lifestyle and outlook.

Self-exclusion

Gambling self-exclusion programmes from both casinos, namely Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is an option available in Singapore. They seem to help some problem gamblers to gamble less often.

However, some skeptics maintain that the casinos and government’s arrangement of self-exclusion programmes is just a smokescreen. Instead it helps to position themselves as being socially responsible and deflects the crux of the problem of the industry, and the services they provide.





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