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Gambling Addiction

It’s a thrill that many of us have experienced. You’re in a casino, feeding money into a slot machine, one coin at a time. All of a sudden, the lights are flashing, bells are ringing, and coins are pouring out of the machine. As you bask in the euphoria of your big win, you have to make a decision. Do you take your winnings and leave, or do you continue gambling, just in case you hit the jackpot again?

Gambling addiction affects roughly 3.2% of Canadian adults, and 2.2% of youth aged 15-24. Unlike some other addictions, it can sneak up on its victim unnoticed, turning a harmless recreational hobby into a compulsion that makes people risk all of their finances on a slot machine or a game of poker.

Gambling addiction is not limited to the casino. It can take the form of bets placed on horses and sporting events, bulk purchases of lottery tickets, and reckless stock market investments. In recent times, the growth of online gambling has created another avenue for people suffering from this addiction.

The impact is more than just financial. People who have an addiction to gambling are at higher risk of anxiety and depression, and they have an increased likelihood of attempting suicide. The addiction frequently leads to isolation as the individual’s family and friends turn away. Divorce and job loss are common, and other forms of addiction, such as alcoholism, can become an added problem.

Who is at risk?

By recognizing the risk factors, you might be able to help yourself or a loved one before a gambling problem gets out of hand. Risk factors include the following:

  • The individual experiences an early big win, which sets up false expectations for the future
  • The individual is going through financial difficulties
  • The individual has experienced a major life change, such as divorce or death of a loved one
  • The individual has a history of mental illness, abuse or trauma
  • The individual has had a family member with an addiction to gambling
  • Other addictions are present, such as alcoholism or drug use

How do I know a loved one is addicted to gambling?

If you think a friend or family member might have a gambling problem, there are several signs that you can look out for:

  • Changes to regular routines
  • Financial changes
  • Changes in relationships
  • Physical and mental health difficulties

What can I do if a loved one is addicted to gambling?

If you believe that a close friend or family member might have a gambling addiction, and you would like to help them, Dalton Associates offers many services to individuals and families who are struggling with addictions. Our team of Registered Psychologists, Registered Psychological Associates and other health care professionals are qualified to assist your family. Contact our office at 1.888.245.5516 to connect with a therapist or addictions counsellor in your community who can provide support for you and your spouse, and your children.

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