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If you think you may have a gambling problem, and feel you would benefit by having a diagnosis and treatment ring me on 086-8720559 or email willienoonan@newdaynewway.ie

Gambling can be fun. Taking a chance on a horse or hoping to scoop a big prize in the lotto can provide amusement and entertainment. A game of cards can focus the mind and sharpen the senses. Most people experience gambling at some time in their life and enjoy taking a chance on the big match or big race or whatever. However, for some people, gambling can become a major problem and develop into a behaviour that destroys relationships, family life, work expectations and life in general. When gambling becomes a compulsive behaviour it is known as ‘Pathological Gambling.

How do you know that you have crossed the line and have a problem?

According to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, criteria for Pathological Gambling include; Preoccupation, Tolerance, Withdrawal, Escape, Chasing, Lying, Loss of Control, Illegal Acts, Risk to Significant Relationship, and Bailout.

Preoccupation occurs when you constantly think about gambling. You may frequently recall past gambling experiences. Your life is becomes centred on gambling and how to acquire money with which to gamble. You may be dodging certain obligations and spend money designated for other purposes just to fulfil the gratification gained by gambling.

Tolerance is one of the key signs of a gambling addiction. It works in the same way that a drug abuser can become tolerant of the substance that he or she is taking, the gambler becoming tolerant of gambling. Your tolerance level is rising when you need more and more money to achieve the desired sensation, just as a cocaine addict may need more and more cocaine.

Withdrawal is another sign of having a gambling addiction. Halting gambling may lead to withdrawal. This withdrawal may not come in a form as physical as the body's withdrawal from a substance, but a gambler suffering from withdrawal may experience agitation and irritability when he or she tries to gamble less or quit gambling altogether.

Escape to avoid problems, or to combat negative feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression are indicative signs of pathological gambling.

Chasing losses, as in, when you lose money and return the next day to try to gain it back or get even with the house.

Lying to both family members and friends about how you are getting the money to gamble and the amount of time you spend gambling.

Loss of Control occurs when you have tried over and over again to stop gambling but cannot, the addiction proving to strong every time.

Illegal Acts occur when you become so in need of funds for your addiction that you resort to stealing—through larceny, fraud, or embezzlement—in order to continue your habits.

Risks to Significant Relationships occurs when your gambling behaviour affects your relationships; including jobs, personal relationships, educational opportunities, and so forth.

Bailout, the final symptom of gambling addiction is when you start relying on others for monetary support for financial problems created by your gambling.

If you experience any of the above, you may have a gambling problem. For a complete assessment, diagnosis and treatment, ring me on 086-8720559 or email willienoonan@newdaynewway.ie