About Problem Gambling

Reasons People Gamble

People don't always gamble just for the money. They also gamble because they:

  • Believe winning big will solve their problems
  • Seek escape from boredom, stress or grief
  • Need time to just not think, not worry
  • Are in troubled relationships and want to escape
  • Are tired, depressed or emotionally drained
  • Are lonely or grieving

Problem gamblers come from many backgrounds. They can be rich or poor, young or old, male or female. Problem gambling can affect people of every race, every religion, and every education and income level. It happens in small towns or big cities.

 

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Phases of Gambling

There are three distinct stages people with gambling problems go through before they "hit bottom" and realize they need help.

Winning

Gambling begins as a social activity. It seems fun, normal. During this phase, people:

  • Sometimes win large amounts of money
  • Feel invincible, so they bet bigger amounts
  • Bet even more to maintain the excitement level

But gambling isn't always about money. Problem gamblers like the excitement of gambling, the dream of winning big, or the escape from everyday problems or stresses.

Losing

This is where the real trouble begins. Gamblers feel like their activity is under control, but in reality it’s not. During this phase, people:

  • Seek more action
  • Believe they can quit whenever they want to – but see no need to quit
  • Gamble to win back what they've lost
  • Gamble and then lie about it
  • Hide their losses
  • Take out loans so they can continue
  • Break their promises to quit
  • Borrow from family and friends
  • Have relationships that begin to suffer

Desperation

Problem gamblers go through this state just before they hit rock bottom. During this phase, people:

  • Feel desperation and hopelessness as losses continue to mount
  • Cling to their fantasy of winning -- hoping to make everything well again
  • Finally realize that they can't win, but they keep gambling anyway
  • Have little concern for the people around them
  • Steal, write bad checks, or commit illegal activities to finance their gambling

Some problem gamblers attempt suicide before they seek treatment.

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