Gambling: What is problem gambling? (Part 2)

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Talking with a counsellor can help. 1866 833-7690 workhealthlife.com


Man in CasinoIn part one of this blog post I talked about the importance of perceiving of gambling as a source of entertainment. For most people, keeping gambling ‘fun’ isn’t a problem. However when people develop a gambling problem, it can have a devastating impact on their work, family, and finances. Problem gambling is defined as excessive gambling that negatively affects key areas of a person’s life: physical or mental health, school or work performance, finances and relationships. Problem gambling can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or social status.

According to the Canadian Partnership on Problem Gambling (2005-2006), 76% – 82% of adults take part in some form of gambling each year, and 2.5% – 3.5% of Canadian adults are identified as moderate-risk gamblers or problem gamblers. For individuals at risk, and the people who care about them, understanding the signs of problem gambling can be the first step to getting help.

Paying attention to these signs is important because problem gambling can be compounded by symptoms of depression or anxiety and is associated with an elevated risk for thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

Signs of problem gambling include:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling
  • Difficulty cutting down on or stopping gambling activities
  • Increased debt and financial troubles due to gambling
  • Spending more than you can afford or spending all of your money on gambling
  • Extreme emotional highs and lows due to wins and losses
  • Gambling to escape personal problems and/or mental health issues
  • Hiding the cost of gambling from your loved ones
  • Neglecting yourself and your responsibilities due to gambling

Getting help for problem gambling

For many, quitting gambling is not easy to do. Problem gamblers often have mixed feelings – they seek the high and the escape from real world issues that gambling provides yet they also feel guilty and ashamed because of the harm they are causing themselves and their families. Recovery from problem gambling includes overcoming shame, implementing strategies to identify and defend against future gambling triggers, and figuring out how to cope with the aftermath of problem gambling. Fortunately, free and confidential services are available across many jurisdictions in Canada.

Problem gambling resources and services include:

You can find specific information and treatment options in each province through the Responsible Gambling Council and the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario.

Not all of us can gamble responsibly and for many people, not gambling at all is the most effective way to minimize the risks associated with problem gambling. Understanding the difference between gambling for fun or entertainment and problem gambling, making informed decisions and engaging in an honest self-appraisal about the effects of gambling are strategies for keeping this popular form of entertainment in the category of harmless fun. If gambling has moved from entertainment to addiction for you or someone you care about, get help because no one should struggle with addiction alone.

By Amy Demont. Amy is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick and has been with Morneau Shepell since 2010. Amy started as a Team Lead working in the Responsible Gaming Information Centre in Casino NB located in Moncton serving both the patrons and employees of the casino. She currently supervises 5 responsible gambling centres in 3 provinces.


If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, there is help out there. Reach out to a counsellor or someone you trust to regain control of your financial and personal life. Talking with a counsellor can help. 1866 833-7690 workhealthlife.com

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