Gambling addiction affects people of any gender and any age and in any socioeconomic status. Gambling is a behaviour that involves a decision to eventually win a prize after many attempts of spending money that may belong to the gambler or not.
Gambling can be a form of impaired decision-making and can also a result from a negative life experience. Gambling addiction is now known as gambling disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5) under the non-substance behavioural addiction section. Symptoms need to result in clinical impairment of distress within the following 12 month period and include four or more of the criteria listed in the manual. The criteria includes but not limited to lies to hid the problem, feeling restless when trying to cut gambling and needing to gamble to increase money or achieve a desired level of excitement.
Some people gamble to express their anger, have a negative relationship with money as they were told money was more important than them or want a sense of belonging. Risk factors also include a lack of family cohesion, loneliness, financial hardship and using gambling to mitigate it, impulsive personality where there is a lack of self control to manage the urge, high sensation-seeking behaviour, and a lack of coping strategies to manage life challenges. Therefore, there are many complex factors to consider when helping someone with gambling addiction.
Coping strategies to manage problem gambling include counselling to work through past trauma, experimenting with healthy coping strategies, improving financial literacy to learn about and appreciate healthy money management including planning for your financial future, improving relationships around you to develop a healthy sense of belonging, improving what money means for you as well as facing your problems and working it out.