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HealthInfo Canterbury

Gambling problems

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For many people, gambling is harmless and fun, and just another way to relax. But for some people, gambling can become an addiction. And when it becomes an addiction, the cost of the gambling can become too great.

A person may have a gambling problem when they keep gambling despite being aware of negative outcomes in their life. This usually means the gambling is causing conflict with a spouse, with friends, or at work. It might mean the person is running up debts that make managing their or their family's needs very difficult. They might be borrowing money to gamble, or even stealing money.

Despite knowing about these harmful outcomes, a person with a gambling addiction:

A gambling addiction can gradually take over a person’s life. It can destroy their reputation, their relationships and their financial security. What may start off as a bit of fun can end up being very destructive.

If you're concerned about someone, this test on the Health Promotion Agency's website Choice Not Chance can help you work out if they have a gambling problem.

If you're concerned about your own gambling, this test can help you work out if you have a problem.

The websites and support services below can help people recover from a gambling problem.

Gambling may be the only problem a person has. But sometimes they can also have an alcohol or other drug addiction, or mental health problems. If this is the case you may need to see your GP to get more support.

Support services

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2020.


Page reference: 520819

Review key: HIADG-47857