There's no surefire way to identify if someone you know has a gambling problem because the physical symptoms that accompany, say, drug or alcohol addiction are often absent. This is one of the reasons why some people are able to remain in denial about their problem for a long time. They really do believe that they can stop any time they want.
However, there are some signs that often materialize in those with gambling problems. If you're a frequent gamer yourself, or are worried about someone you know, you might want to keep an eye out for these 5 'symptoms':
Stress/irritability: Mood swings, dependent on winning and losing streaks, are common among those with gambling problems.
Depression: Not the easiest thing to spot at the best of times, but try to look out for a negative attitude to surroundings and/or avoidance of social activities and things they have previously enjoyed.
Frequently talking about money (or asking to borrow money): The more people talk about money, the higher the likelihood that it's something they're spending a lot of their time worrying about.
Spending more than they can afford on gambling: Obviously this is difficult to identify in other people, but it's safe to assume that if someone is gambling every day (especially at the expense of going to work or meeting other expectations) they may be doing this.
Breaking promises to stop gambling or to gamble less: If you're concerned about how often someone is gambling, ask them to take a break. If they can't do it, chances are they may be struggling with addiction.
Despite the fact that brushes with problem gambling are very common, there's still a stigma associated with addition. This is unhelpful in that acknowledging a problem is the first step to addressing it, but many deny they have a problem because they are ashamed.
However, there are a few ways to avoid falling victim to the problems associated with gambling addiction!
Ways to minimize the risk of problem gambling
Although family history and gambling from an early age have been associated with an increased risk of problem gambling, there's no way to determine whether or not someone will develop an addiction to gambling. There are, however, some things that can be done to limit the harm caused by it:
Stick to a budget. Easier said than done for those who have a gambling problem, but setting a budget and trying hard to stick to it is good step to stop gambling getting out of hand in the first place. Why? Because going over budget only to have a win reinforces repeating such behavior in the future.
Use a specific credit card for gambling. Using a pre-paid or low limit card can help those who don't have much willpower stick to a budget. The act of having to add a new credit card once one has been maxed out can, in itself, act as a deterrent.
Blocking gambling sites. Parental controls aren't just for parents stopping children from accessing naughty sites! You can also use them to block gambling sites if you don't trust yourself to stay away from them.
Self-exclusion. Using multiple devices or can't figure out how to block all gambling sites from your computer? All reputable online casinos will help you to delete your account and stop you from re-registering if you email them asking them to do so.
The above can't guarantee that gambling will never become a problem, they can definitely help to reduce the risk. If you haven't started playing yet and you're already worried about problem gambling, that might be a sign to stay away from the online casinos. Better safe than sorry!