It’s no longer an unusual sight in Nigeria. What isn’t? Betting/Gaming shops thronged by teeming youths who hope to break forth through one lucky stroke. Of course, it isn’t. Is this problem gambling? No. At least, it isn’t until you assess each person one at a time. Is gambling good or bad? I’d rather we left that question to be decided within religious assemblies. However, let’s discuss problem gambling. What is problem gambling?
Problem gambling occurs when a person continues to gamble despite negative effects that may impact their finances, relationships, or well-being. It is actually a psychiatric disorder. Actually, that is putting it mildly. To put it bluntly, it is a mental illness. This follows the common narrative ‘too much of anything is bad’. When do we say someone has problem gambling? The American classification of diseases (DSM-5) states that a person must show or experience at least four of the following during the past 12 months:
- Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to feel excitement
- Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop, control, or reduce gambling
- Thinking often about gambling and making plans to gamble
- Gambling when feeling distressed
- Returning to gamble again after losing money
- Lying to conceal gambling activities
- Experiencing relationship or work problems due to gambling
- Depending on others for money to spend on gambling
Anyone who exhibits any four of the symptoms above needs help! These problems are often the initial ones in a spectrum of problems, increasing in severity as we move from one end to the other. It is not uncommon for problem gamblers to come down with depressive or anxiety disorders. The risk of suicide is also significantly raised in these people when compared to the general population. Moreover, addictions lead to addictions. The possibility of alcohol and substance abuse is greatly increased to although this is more likely to be preexisting rather than a consequence of problem gambling. These are all mental disorders, the major domain of disorders associated with problem gambling. These disorders might in turn manifest physically as poor self-care, sleeping and eating problems, tiredness and sometimes irritability.
The impact of problem gambling on relationships cannot but be mentioned. Strained relations with friends, family members, colleagues at places of employment is not unusual. Some may resort to crime in a bid to fund gambling.
It’s important to realise you have a problem if you do. Stop thinking you can’t afford to lose all the money that has gone into it. Seek help today. It’s advised that one visits the mental health department of any teaching hospital around. Psychological and drug treatments are available to take care of this condition.