When does gambling become a problem?
For the majority of people, gambling is a form of entertainment amongst many others. It is occasionally undertaken and does not create any particular problems. However, for certain individuals, gambling can lead to difficulties. We use different terms to describe the problem, according to the level of severity.
The term Recreational Gambling is used to describe playing which does not create any particular problems. People who play in this way consider gambling to be an non significant activity. They play occasionally, taking account of their financial limits and knowing how to end the game in a controlled way. They accept that they might lose money and do not play on in order to recover their losses.
The term Problematic Gambling is used to describe playing that leads to numerous negative consequences. These can be of a financial, familial, professional, social or psychological nature. The player has a tendency to bet increasing amounts of money and gamble more and more often. They also play for longer periods than originally planned. People presenting with Problematic Gambling often play in order to "chase" or recover any losses. This type of player is at an increased risk of progressing to Pathological Gambling.
Pathological Gambling is the most severe form of gambling. Pathological Gamblers experience severe difficulties in controlling their playing. This increases the amount of negative consequences they experience. Gambling becomes a constant preoccupation. This affects family relationships and social and professional lives. It is not uncommon to develop emotional problems (depression, anxiety), which can progress to suicidal ideas. People presenting with Pathological Gambling often borrow money in order to play or pay debts accrued by gambling. Furthermore, they may commit crime in order to fund their continued play
The term Excessive Gambling includes both Problematic Gambling and Pathological Gambling.