Although gambling can seem exciting at the beginning, it can gradually come to take over your whole life. The gambler may become isolated from his/her family and friends, become desperate, and yet still believe that his/her money problems will be solved when he/she finally wins the jackpot.
The development of excessive gaming
In general, problems related to gambling have 3 phases:
- Winning. In the beginning, the gambler seems to win frequently and gaming becomes more and more exciting for him/her. He/she overestimates his/her chances of winning and bets more and more money. At this stage, gambling still doesn’t have major negative consequences for his/her life, but they’ll appear soon enough..
- Losing. The gambler starts losing and keeps on playing, in the hope of winning back his/her money. He/she lies to family and friends, borrows money, and may even go so far as to commit illegal actions to get money. It’s a vicious circle. He/she plays more and more, thinks only about gaming, and has financial problems that keep getting worse. His/her mood changes: he/she becomes irritable and isolated. Gambling starts to have negative consequences for his/her family, work, and education. The gambler tends not to ask for help, because he/she thinks he/she can solve all these problems… by winning at play.
- Despair. The gambler still thinks that winning will be the solution to his/her problems. However, his/her financial issues are getting more and more serious and he/she is becoming more isolated. He/she is in despair, doesn’t know how to get out of this situation, and can’t control his/her gambling anymore. Gambling now takes over his/her whole life. The gambler often feels depressed and may have very dark thoughts. Even at this stage, some gamblers still deny that they have a gaming problem, while others now admit they need help.
Like cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, games of chance aren’t harmless: they can create dependency. Gaming can have a number of negative consequences, such as the following:
- financial problems
- conflicts with friends and family
- low self-esteem
- crime (stealing)
- problems at school and work
- physical and mental health problems (stomach ache, depression)
How can I get help?
If you think you have a problem with gambling, here is some advice that might help you:
- Get support from people you trust. Stop keeping your gambling problems and your debts a secret.
- Remember: you can’t predict the outcome of these games. There isn’t any strategy to beat chance. You have no control over the result of the game.
- Don’t hesitate to consult a professional, and call Tel-jeunes or Gambling: Help and Referral (1 800 461-0140) at any time.