Ambi’s Mind Watch

Health Watch, Normal

What does it mean to be having a gambling habit?


GAMBLING is when a person bets money on a game where the key to winning is mainly based on chance.
Gambling occurs all over the world, including in our society.
This is illegal in many societies. Common examples of gambling including betting money on horse races, card games, sports, lotteries and gambling machines.


1. How does gambling become a habit?
 Unlike drugs, gambling involves no external ‘chemical’ that can help explain why a person can become dependent.
Gambling is seen as exciting and thrilling.
The expectation of winning seems to be a major reason for gambling becoming a dependence problem.
Most gamblers lose much more than they win and there is a desire to get back what they have lost.
They may borrow or steal money to gamble. But the cycle of loss and gambling continues until the person is in deep financial trouble.
When a person falls into this cycle, it’s called pathological gambling.


2. Pathological gambling and health
Pathological gambling can affect health in many ways: 
* Work is affected because a person has irregular hours and may sleep less because some gambling activities take place late at night;
* Because the gambler cannot think of anything other than gambling, he or she can become irritable, suffer poor concentration and become depressed;
* The gambler will have financial problems and may owe money to several people;
* Some gamblers will get involved in theft or other forms of crime to raise money;
* Conflict with relatives is often the result of the gambler not giving enough time and attention to his family responsibilities; and
* Gambling, drinking alcohol and smoking often go together. For example, gambling activities may be held in a bar or club.


3. When do you suspect gambling is a problem?
You should suspect gambling is becoming a problem when:
*  A person has repeated problems with the police;
* A person you know has begun to show signs of increasing poverty ;and
* A person withdraws from old friends.


4. How to deal with this problem?
Questions you ask as a person if you think you may have a gambling problem
* Have I been gambling recently? What type of gambling do I do?
* Have I lost time from work during gambling?
* How has gambling affected my home life?
* How do I feel about my gambling? Do I feel guilty?
* How do I find the money to gamble? How much do I owe others?
* Do I drink alcohol? 
* Have I thought about stopping gambling? Would I like to do so now?

Dr Uma Ambihaipahar is the Principal Advisor- Social Change & Mental Health Consultant Psychiatrist. For more information call: 301 3694/301 3832/301 3787.