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Gambling addiction, also known as ‘compulsive gambling’ is a type of behavioural addiction where addiction is present but no substances are involved. Instead, the overwhelming need is to carry out certain actions or behaviours – regardless of the consequences to themselves and to others.

A compulsive gambler is unable to control the urge to gamble, and feels helplessly compelled to continue, whatever the circumstances.

Problem gambling describes a condition which completely takes over a person’s life, often placing an intolerable strain on relationships, interfering with work, and leading to financial disaster. The constant need to gamble often leads to increasingly desperate and even illegal means to obtain money.

The need to gamble can be triggered by the desire to:

  • Escape from unpleasant feelings, such as stress, depression, fear or anxiety caused by problems at work, at home or by a relationship.
  • Celebrate good news or simply because of being in a positive mood.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Gambling is almost always a secret addiction and there are no obvious physical signs.

However, the behavioural symptoms and psychological effects are often clearly felt by the sufferer, including:

  • Gambling in secret or lying about how much time is spent gambling may be justified in the mind of a gambler by believing they will one day surprise everybody with a big win.
  • Unable to walk away – until every last penny is spent, even raising the stakes in a bid to win back money already lost.
  • Continuing to gamble even when there’s no more money – in a desperate attempt to recoup losses, money is then gambled, which is used to pay household bills, credit cards, or even family presents.
  • A need to gamble increasing amounts of money – in order to feel good, satisfied, or calm.
  • Doing without basic necessities – in order to finance a gambling addiction.
  • Selling items – in order to finance a gambling addiction.
  • Borrowing or stealing – in order to finance a gambling addiction.
  • Feeling bad or guilty after gambling.
  • Losing sleep or thinking about suicide – because of complications due to gambling.


To find out more how we can help you or a loved one with gambling addiction, please feel free to call us on 0203 960 8689

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