Gambling addiction
If a person suspects that he or she or a loved one has gambling addiction, it is important to remember that the condition is treatable and call in the professional as soon as possible.


What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling, also called compulsive gambling disorder, is the unstoppable urge to gamble, despite the negative impact that gambling can have on a person's personal, professional or financial well-being. Gambling addiction, like alcoholism and drug addiction, is a chronic condition.

Gambling is very common, but can lead to addiction if it disrupts your life. There are striking similarities between gambling addiction and other addictions such as drug and alcohol addiction. During an episode, gambling addicts feel "under the influence" (high) or very excited. This behavior usually lasts for several years before it becomes a disorder and causes problems. Initially, success leads to an increase in gambling habits. A variety of activities can be gambled: sports, casino activities, dog fights, horse racing, bingo, lotto, etc.



Gambling addiction is a diagnosable medical condition, with a list of symptoms that need to be addressed before a specialist can diagnose it.

The following 10 symptoms are indicative, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5), which is widely accepted as the most authoritative source worldwide. Please note Please note that an official diagnosis may only be made by a qualified person:

To be diagnosable, five or more of the following symptoms must occur:

  1. An obsession with gambling.
  2. The inability to stop gambling.
  3. Annoyance when the person tries to gamble less.
  4. The need to win bigger sums.
  5. Gambling to get rid of stress.
  6. Constant efforts to win money back.
  7. Lies about the seriousness of the gambling problem.
  8. Rely on others for money to pay gambling debts.
  9. Destroy personal or professional relationships as a result of gambling.
  10. Criminal behavior sometimes occurs to allow gambling.



  1. Why is treatment needed for gambling addiction?
    Compulsive gamblers usually resist treatment because they don't think it's a problem. Most gamblers only get treatment after pressure from their friends or family. Gambling addiction treatment is just as important as drug addiction treatment, and the process is the same.
  2. Who can diagnose me or a loved one?
    Because gambling addiction is so complex, we would recommend that you be treated by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. They are trained to work with different addictions.
  3. What role does a psychologist play in my treatment?
    A psychologist can diagnose gambling addiction and treat psychotherapeutic in conjunction with other medical professionals. This means he or she can help you understand what your diagnosis is, how to live with it, and how to apply a strategy that can lead to behavioral change. A psychologist in South Africa may not prescribe medication and usually works with a psychiatrist in a team.



If a loved one is diagnosed with addiction, your support and motivation can play a very important role in accepting and managing their diagnosis. Here are guidelines on how to assist an individual:

  1. Be patient. People who are under the onslaught of an addiction do not always have the ability to say how they feel or what they are experiencing. Give them a chance to get used to the diagnosis first, and gradually work out an actual plan to manage their lives in the future.
  2. Be informed about addiction. The more you and your loved one, family member or colleague know about the disease, the more you can work together on a plan to support the person and manage the disease.
  3. Ask what your loved one expects of you. One can easily think you know what is best for another person, but the easiest is to ask how he or she wants you to act
  4. Listen to him or her and do not constantly give advice or try to reason with logic. It is important that the person takes responsibility for the addiction and the effect it will have on his or her life. When someone makes choices on behalf of someone else, it may cause the person to become dependent on you and then not want to fight the addiction yourself. It is not your addiction, but your loved one's. Listening is a wonderful way to support your loved one.
  5. Get to know the signs and symptoms so you can act early. Everyone's symptoms of addiction do not manifest in the same way, so it is very important to understand how the person manifests in your life's symptoms. For example, when your loved one's mood suddenly changes, you can start taking measures as long as possible.
  6. Participate in physical activities with the individual. It is not a cliché that regular exercise helps people with psychological diagnoses. Exercise relieves tension and anxiety, and aids in the production of low-mood transmitters. So regular exercise is actually a successful antidepressant.
  7. Encourage a healthy eating and sleeping pattern. An established routine not only helps the person manage their addiction, but also helps to see signs / symptoms early.
  8. Take a good look at yourself! Remember, a person with an addiction can also negatively impact you by involving you in their addiction. Living with a person treated for addiction can feel frustrating, exhausting and sometimes chaotic. Make time for yourself too.


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Gambling addiction:

What should be on the lookout for? What help is available? Why is it not so easy to stop this addiction on its own?

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If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, we suggest the following options:
  1. call your GP (if available);
  2. go to your nearest hospital emergency room;
  3. call one of the following emergency numbers: SADAG (the South African Depression and Anxiety Group) 24-hour helpline: 0800 456 789 or suicide crisis line: 0800 567 567; or
  4. contact Wie is ek?