It is that time again where we hang our flags in support of England, in the hopes that this is our year to win the World Cup! In the excitement of the competition, the temptation to place bets on your countries team may be extremely high. While the occasional bet may seem like a bit of fun, if your gambling habits become more regular it may be a sign of a more serious gambling addiction. Chloe Ward, Technician at mental health clinic, Smart TMS, has given her insight into why people gamble, gambling addictions, how to gamble responsibly during the World Cup and the options available should any concerns about gambling arise.

The gambling environment can create an escape from everyday life

The gambling environment can create an escape from everyday life

Why do people gamble?

The reason behind someone’s gambling habits can be tenfold.

Traditionally though, one of the reasons for gambling is that some people find taking risks exciting, and the gratification that comes from gambling gives the same feeling. The sense of anticipation creates a natural high and adrenalin rush which heightens a sense of excitement with an event.

The gambling environment can create an escape from everyday life and is generally portrayed in the media as stylish and sexy.

With the arrival of the World Cup, many forms of gambling can occur, whether it be a couple of pounds in an office sweepstake to placing bets on each round of the World Cup.

The increase in media advertisements for gambling websites and shops, with enticing and seemingly lucrative deals during this time may also make it more appealing to gamble.

What are the indicators of a gambling addiction?

While there is no one specific cause for a gambling addiction, like many other emotional conditions, it is understood to be a combination of biological vulnerabilities, specific thought processes and social stressors.

The main indicators of a gambling addiction include:

-   A constant preoccupation with gambling - either by reliving past gambling, planning to gamble or thinking of ways to secure money to finance gambling.

-   The constant need for more money to support gambling habits.

-   Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop betting behaviours.

-   Becoming uneasy or easily irritated when trying to reduce or stop gambling.

-   Lying to family or loved ones in order to hide the extent of the gambling behaviour.

How can a gambling addiction impact others around you?

A gambling addiction can not only effect the gambler but also their loved ones and friends. It can impact relationships, their well-being and in some case, their finances.

People who suffer from a gambling addiction tend to hide their issues out of shame and a desire for secrecy. This often delays recovery and treatment and can cause the gambling addiction to penetrate other areas of a person’s life, including potentially losing a job, other mental health conditions such as depression and mood disorders and in worst cases, severe debt.

When should you seek help?

Gambling starts to become a problem when the addiction starts to take over and affect everyday life. Some signs to look out for include:

-    Lying to loved ones, spouses, friends and employers about their money and where they are.

-   Chasing losses and constantly trying to win back any money that has been lost.

-   A sudden rise in borrowing money from people around you, maxing out credit cards and applying for loans without admitting the real reason why the money is needed.

-   Gambling is the main focus of thought processes and conversation.

If you are experiencing any of these - you should start to seek help.

What are the treatment options available for people with a gambling addiction?

There are many treatment options for gambling addictions which include:

-   Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This looks into your thoughts and resulting behaviours, which could identify the root of a gambling problem. From there, it is easier to follow a path to recovery.

-   Counselling: This can help with gambling addictions as it allows people identify why they gamble. This could be talked through on a one-to-one basis, or even through support groups such as GamCare which offers free information and support for gamblers in the UK. There are gambling clinics throughout the UK which offer inpatient and outpatient services for gambling addictions.

-   Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): TMS is a new form of non-invasive, medication-free treatment for gambling addictions is available throughout the UK and Ireland at Smart TMS clinics. This form of treatment targets the addictive pathway on the left side of the brain by creating a magnetic field within the pathways within the brain. This is carried out through placing a magnetic coil over this specific region to restructure this specific pathway and has been found to be effective in many cases for gambling addictions.

How can you handle a gambling addiction during the World Cup?

My advice and self-help tips include:

-   Ensuring important bills including your mortgage, rent and utilities are paid on payday. That way, it’s easier to manage money later in the month and the urge to gamble to find extra money may be lessened if the absolute need for money isn’t there.

-   Spend more time doing other enjoyable activities. This will refocus the mind and take the craving to gamble away.

-   Do not view gambling as a way of making money.

-   Limiting the amount of money that is being gambled can help. For instance, a World Cup bet limit of £10 might be useful.

Chloe Ward is a Technician for Smart TMS, the UKs leading mental health clinic specialising in transcranial magnetic stimulation. 


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