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Counselling for Gambling Problems

Gambling problems are often hidden and it can take time for people who are gambling to seek help. Some people refer to gambling as an addiction and for many people it is something they cannot seem to stop doing. Gamblers can accumulate huge debts and sometimes turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the pressure or pain of their situation.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists offers this questionnaire to establish if you have a gambling problem.

  • Do I spend a lot of time thinking about gambling?
  • Am I spending larger amounts of money on my gambling?
  • Have I tried to cut down or stop gambling - but not been able to?
  • Do I get restless or irritable if I try to cut down my gambling?
  • Do I gamble to escape from life's difficulties or to cheer myself up?
  • Do I carry on playing after losing money - to try and win it back?
  • Have I lied to other people about how much time or money I spend gambling ?
  • Have I ever stolen money to fund my gambling?
  • Has my gambling affected my relationships or my job?
  • Do I get other people to lend me money when I have lost?

If you have answered 'yes'

  • Just once: You may have enough of a problem to need help.
  • Three times: Your gambling probably feels out of control - think about getting help.
  • Five or more times: Your gambling is probably affecting every part of your life - get help.

People gamble

  • To forget about responsibilities
  • To feel better when they feel depressed or sad
  • To fill their time when bored (especially if unemployed)
  • When they are angry with themselves or others.

Treatment for gambling generally requires a person to recognise the problem and be prepared to do something about it. Problem gambling counsellors use techniques such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnotherapy, narrative therapy, solution focussed counselling, controlled gambling, abstinence, 12 step programs and self-directed interventions. No medication is licenced for treatment for gambling in the United Kingdom. However gambling is often a response to other life stresses including work or business problems, bereavement or family breakdown and sometimes depression can accompany gambling problems so there may be treatment for depression at the same time.

This information is only general and is not a substitute for a professional consultation.

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