Our experts built this gambling addiction guide based on complete research to present you with the characteristics of problem gambling, as well as the signs and symptoms. As a health problem, it is really important that Pinoy gamblers and players learn how to have fun responsibly and to identify signs of it in friends.
Table of Contents
- What Is Gambling Addiction?
- Myths & Facts About Gambling Addiction in the Philippines
- Statistics & Facts About Gambling Addiction in the Philippines
- What Are the Consequences of Gambling Addiction?
- How to Identify Gambling Addiction: Signs & Symptoms
- Can Gambling Addiction Be Treated?
- Ideal Course of Action to Cure Gambling Addiction
- Gambling Addiction Among Teenagers
- Gambling Addiction Help Contacts in the Philippines
- What Can You Do About Gambling Addiction?
What Is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is the inability to control urges and impulses towards any type of gambling. It is considered to be a serious health problem, just like any other addiction, because of the consequences that can reach preoccupying levels. In general, gambling addicts tend to turn gambling into their number one priority.
The Difference Between Problem Gambling and Gambling Addiction
When a player’s behavior starts to impact his life in any instance, that can be considered problem gambling. Quite intuitive, the term relates to problems that derive from gambling, which should not be the reality of a healthy gambler.
At that point, it does not feel almost impossible to quit immediately and cease the problems that may be caused. As an example of such circumstances, we could mention the lack of money to pay bills or aggressivity.
As soon as it requires an enormous effort to stop gambling, despite all the problems that it is causing, that can be considered an addiction.
Is Gambling Addiction the Same as Online Gambling Addiction?
All forms of gambling addiction fall within the same category, even though each person may have different consequences for that health issue. Therefore, it does not matter if the person is addicted to gambling physically or online through a device. Both can be classified as equal and with the same urgency for treatment.
Myths & Facts About Gambling Addiction in the Philippines
Here are some debunked myths on gambling addiction to help you understand what is true about that health problem:
Myth: It is impossible to cure gambling addiction.
Fact: Addictions can always return, but the correct treatment can prevent gambling problems from occurring during a lifetime.
Myth: Addicted gamblers are only those who play every day.
Fact: Addiction cannot be stopped at will and causes negative consequences to the life of the addicted person and their surroundings. Those characteristics can be present despite not playing every day.
Myth: Online gambling gets you addicted.
Fact: Online gambling makes it more comfortable for people who want to gamble comfortably and have fun without having to go to casinos. As long as they play responsibly, they can enjoy it in a healthy way.
Myth: Only the poor get addicted to gambling.
Fact: Gambling problems can happen to anyone, poor or rich, and the consequences are terrible in both cases.
Myth: Addicted gamblers do not want to be helped.
Fact: Addictions are serious health problems that must be addressed right because the person loses the power to control their impulses, even when they want to be saved.
Statistics & Facts About Gambling Addiction in the Philippines
- More than half of rehab clients, in some instances, are addicted to gambling.
- PAGCOR offers an exclusion program to gambling addicts who wish to be banished from local licensed casinos.
- The Philippines is aware of the existence of problem gamblers and addicts, collaborating with rehab centers through PAGCOR.
- Even though gambling is not allowed for those under the age of 21, teenage gambling addiction does occur.
What Are the Consequences of Gambling Addiction?
The consequences to the life of a gambling addict can be incalculable. Basically, it may affect mainly the financial and social life of that person, but damage to the mental and physical health of the addict is not uncommon. Also, those who are close to the person suffering from gambling addiction can be affected directly.
Regardless of the wealth of the gambling addict, financial problems become an issue sooner or later. Gambling with money that was borrowed and creating debt to gamble are common. Also, the incapacity to think of or do anything else ultimately results in losing the job, career, or complete interest in other hobbies.
Aside from generating consequences for their own lives and the people around them, people suffering from gambling addiction can impact the whole nation. Simply consider the impacts of those people not being productive, losing money that cannot be recovered, and demanding aid from public institutions.
That is why it is extremely important to identify the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction in the Philippines. Always do the exercise of evaluating your own gambling routine and the behavior of people around you. In the beginning, the chances of getting rid of a gambling problem are higher.
The Different Types of Gambling Problems
Each person might show different signs of gambling addiction. It is a spectrum that has as its main characteristic the inability to control the impulses towards gambling. Therefore, it is not possible to specify rigid typifications of gambling problems. It will vary according to the case, and it is important to have a professional to accompany it.
How to Identify Gambling Addiction: Signs & Symptoms
It is not usual for the person developing signs of gambling addiction to identify them. Mostly, the lack of knowledge of what those signs could be is partially the culprit. In order to make sure that you are gambling in a healthy way and also to be aware of risks in people you know, acknowledge the signs and symptoms below:
- Cannot stop thinking and/or talking about gambling.
- Gambling becomes the subject or main concern in inappropriate moments.
- Spending money that should have been saved or used to pay bills.
- Borrowing money to gamble.
- Missing or skipping appointments to gamble.
- Getting angry without reason or when warned about the perils of addiction.
- Warnings from friends and relatives relating to exaggerating in gambling.
- Playing illegal games.
- Development of depression and other disorders connected to gambling.
- Losing interest in other hobbies.
Identify the Stages of Gambling Addiction
The later a gambling problem is identified, the harder it may be to get out of the vicious cycle. Now that you are aware of the signs and symptoms, learning the stages of gambling addiction can help identify how urgently that person requires assistance.
- The optimistic phase
The trigger for gambling addiction usually is a combination of susceptibility and the feeling of invincibility that winning can provide. The majority of people get excited when they win, but seeking that feeling over and over again without knowing the limits is the first worrying sign.
- Frustration and apprehension
Since people who are developing gambling problems never know when to stop, they start to get frustrated when they fail. Each loss makes them even more desperate to recover and try to win. Gambling starts to become a big part of their day, even if only in thought. It is essential to seek help at this stage to avoid bigger consequences.
- The compulsive stage
In the third stage, gambling is no longer only a problem and becomes a severe addiction. That person cannot simply stop gambling anymore, and it is already impacting their lives, as well as the life of those around them. The intervention needs to be stronger and count on all the possible tools, including professional help.
Can Gambling Addiction Be Treated?
Just like any form of addiction, it can be treated and considered to be cured, although people who undergo treatment have to stay away from gambling. The treatment for gambling addiction is a multidisciplinary intervention that counts with:
- Support groups – Although it is essential for family and friends to be supportive, gambling addicts also need to be in contact and share their experiences with people facing the same problem. Support groups count on people in treatment, professionals, and those who have already succeeded at treating it.
- Medication – Not always necessary, medication can be a tool to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and even the urge to gamble. It must always be prescribed by a professional who has deeply analyzed each case.
- Therapy – There are many psychological treatments that could accompany the addict in the process of healing, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is common to work on addiction triggers.
- Specialized Programs – Rehab institutions and programs specialized in taking care of people with gambling problems usually offer all of the other treatments as a package. It should be a place where these people can disconnect from everything else and focus on getting healed.
Tips to Overcome a Gambling Problem
Anyone who figures out a gambling problem can take the first step towards getting rid of it. There are a few actions that could be essential to prevent any worsening of the situation, and we can name them:
- Understand it – Acknowledging that you have a problem that should and can be overcome is really important. Know that it may happen to anyone and that having a gambling problem is not your fault.
- Learn the triggers – Think it through and try to figure out the triggers that lead you to gamble. It could be the need to relieve stress or the need for money. Gambling is merely a way to have fun for a short while and should never become anything different for you. Once you learn the triggers, find alternatives to gambling whenever they appear.
- Look for help – Your gambling problem needs to be treated, especially in the early phases. Also, you may learn that it is only a symptom of another thing that can be treated in therapy with a professional.
- Find company – Talk to people who you trust and discover who you can count on. That support will be extremely important throughout the process.
How to Avoid Getting Back to Gambling
Either during the process, when setbacks may occur, or after being treated, it is important to avoid triggers. By following the process with a professional, the person suffering from gambling addiction probably learned to identify and avoid those triggers. On top of that, there are some actions that can be useful for people who want to avoid cravings:
- Remember that you only need to live one day at a time. For today, you will not let thoughts of gambling take over your mind.
- Keep in mind the bad consequences you suffered or that you know someone else had whenever the urge to gamble appears.
- Have a destination for the money you earn, including the amount that you will not use, so that you never have money that you could feel to be extra.
- Be attentive to your triggers and apply the strategy of finding alternatives to cope with them.
- Explore practices that are effective in reducing anxiety, such as meditation, in order to avoid unpleasant thoughts.
- When you wake up and when you go to sleep, have a moment to pray or write a diary with what you are grateful for.
- Find hobbies that can keep you entertained and stimulate pleasure through other sources.
- Keep your body active by exercising and maintaining a healthy diet.
- Remember that gambling is based on poor chances and tends to result in loss. There are more effective ways of earning money and seeking pleasure.
- Get yourself restricted from any game or portal that allows you to gamble. That includes eliminating subscriptions, emails, and notifications.
- Plan your week ahead, including time with family and friends, and avoid finding yourself bored.
- When you are off the treatment, do not enroll yourself in discussions that involve negative aspects that you have been through, as those could be triggers.
Ideal Course of Action to Cure Gambling Addiction
The addiction can only be overcome by eliminating gambling and the urge to enroll in it. It takes time, but it is possible to have a happy and normal life without its consequences. Either following this plan for yourself or recommending it to someone you know, those are the first steps to healing from gambling addiction.
- Understand the problem and its consequences
Throughout this guide, you were introduced to all facets of gambling addiction, how it affects people, and its consequences. Part of the treatment is to know what is being faced exactly and the results if nothing is done to overcome it. To the maximum possible extent, avoid gambling altogether.
It is possible to request exclusion for yourself or family members with the program from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). You need to download the self-exclusion form of the family exclusion form, respectively.
- Professional help
As soon as possible, seek professional help. Having a psychologist and a psychiatrist, for example, is a good way to start. However, if there are any institutions in your region in the Philippines that can provide professionals with experience in the area of gambling addiction, that would be ideal.
You can find some helpful contacts for gambling addiction in the Philippines at the end of this guide.
- Support groups
While having family and friends backing up throughout that difficult process, they cannot be as specialized as support groups. Those can also be found through institutions related to offering gambling addiction help in the Philippines. Within a group, an addict can feel understood and find even more support.
- Find alternatives
A big part of the treatment and avoidance of triggers and relapses is to occupy oneself. Hobbies and new passions that cannot result in the same bad consequences as gambling are great for the treatment. For example, sports and music are two good choices. The patient should take time to figure out what works better for him.
Gambling Addiction Among Teenagers
Although gambling is not allowed before the age of 21, according to the gambling laws in the Philippines, teenage gambling addiction is not rare. It is a real and worrying problem, just like alcoholism and addiction to drugs.
Even though they are not capable of gambling through legal sources, they can start through illegal gambling. For example, playing jueteng for money with friends and at clandestine outlets. It may happen just like with an adult, except that teenagers tend to be even more susceptible to having gambling problems due to the immature structure of the brain in that phase of life.
Signs of Teenage Addiction to Gambling
Due to the lack of experience or skill in communicating what they are going through, teenagers are considered to be a risk group. That makes it extremely important to notice signs of teenage gambling addiction, especially at the early stages.
In order to reduce the chances of a teenager with problem gambling having serious issues in adulthood, these are signs that can raise a red flag, especially if combined:
- Showing interest in betting and gambling despite being under the legal age.
- Demonstrating not to understand the actual risks of gambling.
- Sudden changes of mood in case of confrontation or if found guilty.
- Starting to appear with money from an unidentified source.
- Lying to cover up the unexplained disappearance of money.
- Borrowing or stealing money to “play” with friends.
- Unexplained use of a bank account or the credit card of parents, friends, or a relative.
The subjectivity of those signs, especially because teenagers can only gamble illegally, can make it difficult to realize an undergoing gambling problem. Those signs can be red flags in a myriad of dangerous behaviors, and the reason can only be reached through support and communication.
The Risk Factors for Teenage Gambling in the Philippines
The Philippines is not nonchalant when it comes to protecting our teenagers from irresponsible and illegal gambling. Still, that is a stage in which people are prone to addictions, including gambling, and these are important risk factors:
- The risks of gambling release dopamine, a hormone that is connected to well-being but also to addiction in people who are prone to it.
- The presence or being close to people who have gambling problems.
- Mood or psychological disorders like depression or anxiety.
- Traumas and bad experiences from which they might want to escape.
- Lack of support and safety at home.
- Participation in fictitious gambling actions such as playing for fun.
- Possibility of tricking online casinos to gamble while in illegal age.
- Receiving ads and information from gambling with false promises on social media.
- The immediatism and impulsiveness that are common to teenagers.
- The preexistence of other addictions, such as alcoholism.
Gambling Addiction Help Contacts in the Philippines
Now that you have all that information on how to help control and fight gambling addiction in the Philippines, these are important help contacts to find in our country:
- Bridges of Hope – A rehab center with a confidential helpline and accredited by PAGCOR.
- Gamblers Anonymous Philippines – Provides meetings and support groups for gambling addicts. Telephone: +63 0976-038-4333
- Life Change Recovery Center – Another rehab for addiction that is accredited by PAGCOR.
Those are official channels through which the first contact can be established via email or phone calls. That is enough to put the person in contact with a counselor that can guide every step towards getting rid of gambling addiction or problems.
What Can You Do About Gambling Addiction?
Everyone can stay alert for the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, which is a very serious condition. At the sign of the first red flag, contacting a supportive center and doing everything possible to reach exclusion from legal gambling channels is essential.
The majority of people can have fun gambling and never experience anything negative. Still, there are people who might suffer from problem gambling, and the government of the Philippines seems to offer proper channels and helplines to support them. Do your part if you think you can help someone, and only gamble responsibly.
Yes, it is responsible for over half of the cases treated in rehab centers.