Gambling addiction is a behavioral addiction that affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK alone. It affects men and women, young and old, and people from all walks of life. It’s also known as ‘compulsive gambling’, ‘problem gambling’ and ‘gambling disorder’, and is a growing problem particularly since the rise of online gambling.

Worrying that a family member or friend is struggling with a gambling addiction can be extremely stressful and isolating. It’s difficult to know the best steps to take and you may be concerned that you’re ‘reading too much into things’. Understanding the signs and symptoms of a gambling problem is an important step in determining whether or not your loved one needs help. If you’ve spotted the following symptoms, then now is the time to act:

  • Feeling that you can no longer trust your loved one with money. Whatever money they have seems to disappear – and if you’ve seen them gambling you’ve noticed that they carry on, perhaps until the last pound is gone.
  • Gambling to recover losses or to win more. They may have unrealistic expectations of what gambling can achieve (such as financial security or wealth for their family) or gamble in an attempt to resolve financial difficulties.
  • Promising and failing to stop gambling. In some cases, this can feel like a never-ending cycle – ‘this time it’s going to be different’ over and over again.
  • Missing work, meetings or breaking social arrangements. You’re concerned that the real reason for this type of unreliability is gambling, and the time and resources it consumes.
  • Hiding money and secretive behavior. You suspect (or know) that your loved one is squirreling money away to fund their addiction. They may be cagey about their whereabouts and could be away from home for long unexplained periods of time.
  • Changes in personality. This addiction leads to low self-esteem and feelings of despair and hopelessness. Your loved one may seem depressed. He or she could also be aggressive and confrontational if you hint at the extent of their gambling problem.
  • You find yourself hiding money. You’re scared that the money you need to live on will be spent unless you stash it away.
  • Their reputation starts to suffer. This could be at work, within the family or amongst friends and neighbors. They may even commit illegal acts such as theft and fraud to fund their pricey addiction.
  • You’re concerned that gambling will destroy the family unit. This can be a very frightening thought and difficult to admit. Sadly, this addiction breaks families across London and the UK as they struggle to live with gambling addiction alone.
  • Finding the right support

At Step One, we can help you if you’re struggling with an addiction. Our experts are here to help and can look at the source of the problem as well as triggers and other risks. We’ll get you to a position where you feel comfortable and happy to go out into the world again and can trust yourself. If you want to speak to the Step One team, click here.