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From the excitement of playing to lies and despair

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:

  1. 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..
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The consequences

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
  • isolation
  • crime (stealing)
  • lying
  • 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.
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