Be Aware of the Signs of Gambling

Gambling involves putting something of value at risk in order to try to win another item of value. It has existed in nearly every society since prerecorded history and it is incorporated into many customs and rites of passage. Some people find the thrill of gambling irresistible, but for some it becomes a problem. Some even experience serious consequences as a result of their gambling. It is important to be aware of the signs that indicate a potential problem.

Over the years, psychologists have developed a consensus about what constitutes problematic gambling. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is used by psychiatrists, lists 10 warning signs that are associated with pathological gambling. These include an early big win, losing control, boredom susceptibility, the size of the wins and losses, chasing losses, criminal behavior and the use of credit cards to gamble.

Research suggests that gamblers are often motivated by a desire to gain an early large win, or they may be driven by a need for excitement. These motivations are sometimes exacerbated by stress or by the desire to escape from a stressful situation. For example, a person under extreme financial stress might gamble in order to relieve the pressure or to feel more self-confident. Other reasons people gamble include a desire to socialize with others, or a desire for relaxation and entertainment.

While some skill can improve a person’s chances of winning in certain gambling activities, most are truly random and cannot be predicted. Some gamblers display a clear awareness of this fact, but they may also exhibit cognitive distortions that can lead to elevated confidence and overestimation of the likelihood of success.

It is also important to remember that gambling is not a good way to spend money that should be used for other purposes. In some cases, the money a person spends on gambling is money that could be better spent on providing for family needs or advancing charitable causes. As Christians, we are responsible for using the resources entrusted to us in ways that are sober and wise.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s gambling, consider talking with them about it. It is best to talk with someone who will not judge them, such as a counselor or pastor. If you are able, help your loved one develop an alternative social or recreational activity that does not involve gambling. Lastly, it is important to reduce the risk factors of gambling by only gambling with disposable income and never using money that is needed for other expenses. Moreover, it is important to avoid gambling when you are depressed or upset. Chasing lost money is called the “gambler’s fallacy,” and it is a sure way to lose more. In addition, it is helpful to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. This will help to keep you on track and provide you with support from other former gamblers who have successfully overcome addiction.