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HEALTH COLUMN: Gambling addiction - facts, symptoms and treatment
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HEALTH COLUMN: Gambling addiction - facts, symptoms and treatment
on 09 March 2018
Leo Powell has been looking at the ways people suffering from a gambling addiction can be helped

A GAMBLING addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is an uncontrollable urge to keep on gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. The addiction has the potential to ruin more than one life if it is left untreated. Here you can learn about gambling addiction symptoms, treatment and some facts about the problem in Ireland.


The overwhelming majority of people who gamble don’t have a problem with it; in fact for the majority of those who do bet, gambling is an entertaining form of recreation.

  • Approximately 12% of Irish adults bet with a bookmaker weekly and approximately 2% of Irish adults gamble online regularly
  • Less than 1% of those who need treatment for problem gambling actually receive it
  • Independent studies estimate that 1% of an adult population have a gambling disorder. This equates to about 28,000 people in Ireland, though Ireland’s Institute of Public Health extrapolates it could be as high as 40,000
  • Irish people are estimated to gamble over €5 billion per year; that’s €14 million per day or €10,000 per minute
  • Ireland has the third highest gambling losses per adult in the world
  • Gambling addiction is an ‘impulse control problem’ that any person can suffer from – regardless of age, sex or socio-economic profile
  • Adolescent gambling in Ireland is two to three times greater than that of adults
  • Recognise A Problem

    How do you know if you have a gambling problem? Does your gambling cause a problem for you or others around you? Answering yes to some of these questions does not necessarily make you a problem gambler, but may indicate a problem.

  • Do you sometimes spend more money and time on gambling than you can afford to?
  • Do you find it hard to stop or manage your gambling? Do you have a preoccupation with gambling activities?
  • Do you have arguments with family or friends about money and gambling?
  • Do you always think or talk about gambling?
  • Do you lie about gambling or hide it from other people?
  • Do you chase losses or gamble to get out of financial trouble?
  • Do you gamble until all of your money is gone?
  • Do you borrow money, sell possessions or fail to pay bills in order to pay for gambling?
  • Do you need to gamble with larger amounts of money or for a longer time to get the same feeling of excitement or buzz?
  • Do you neglect work, school, family, personal needs or household responsibilities because of gambling? Is it making your home life unhappy?
  • Do you feel anxious, worried, guilty, depressed or irritable because of gambling? Have you felt remorse after gambling? Do you suffer mood swings as a result of gambling?
  • Do you consider or have you considered an illegal act to finance your gambling?
  • Do you gamble to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
  • Do you have difficulty sleeping because of gambling?
  • Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create an urge within you to gamble? Conversely, do you have an urge to celebrate good fortune with a few hours gambling?
  • Have you ever considered self-destruction as a result of your gambling?
  • Family & Friends

    If you have concerns over a loved one’s gambling habits, there is information to assist family and friends.

  • You cannot change the gambler’s behaviour – they have to be willing to change themselves. As a person without a problem you cannot understand why the person with the gambling problem doesn’t just stop. You might try many ways to stop them but you just can’t control the person’s behaviour. You need to focus away from their behaviour and deal with your own feelings. This will help you to see the gambler as a person in crisis and out of control. This will then allow you to be supportive and to understand their feelings, and yet not apply pressure about their behaviour.
  • Does someone you care about have an issue with gambling? You cannot force someone to acknowledge that they have an issue with gambling but you can encourage them to seek professional help. If you’re not sure how to approach the situation, a counsellor can help point you in the right direction.
  • How do you know if someone close to you has an issue with gambling? People gamble for many reasons - for excitement, the thrill of winning or to be social. Gambling becomes an issue when it causes harm to the gambler and those close to them. Usually this means they are spending more money or time on gambling than they can afford.
  • Getting help

    Try to ensure that those who require assistance, support and treatment for problem gambling issues can get the help they need. Here are some useful contacts and numbers.

    DUNLEWEY ADDICTION SERVICES, 247 Cavehill Road, Belfast BT15 5BS W: E: T: 028-90392547

    GAMBLEAWARE IRELAND, 16/17 South Terrace, Cork. W: E: T: 021-4316776 or 1800 753 753

    GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS, c/o Teach Mhuire, 39 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1 or Quaker House, Capwell, Summerhill South, Cork City W: E: T: 01-8721133 (Dublin), 087-2859552 (Cork), 086-3494450 (Galway), 087-4266633 (Kerry) and 087-1850294 (Waterford)

    PROBLEM GAMBLING IRELAND, Viewmount House, Viewmount Park, Dunmore Road, Waterford City W: E: T: 089-2415401 (text for a call-back)

    RUTLAND CENTRE, Knocklyon Road, Templeogue, Dublin 16 W: E: T: 01-4946358 (24 hours)

    THE RISE FOUNDATION, Carmelite Community Centre, Aungier Street, Dublin 2 W: E: T: 01-76451531

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