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It's a thin line between the joy and problems in gambling, and even though most of us think of it as a form of entertainment, without any strings attached, for some of us it grows into something bigger, something more than just a game, even more than prestige. Winning becomes the main motive, and when it fails, turning their luck around is something problem gamblers dedicate all their time and resources to.
Gambling does not become a problem overnight. It takes time for the problem to hatch, space to spread its wings and financial support to fly at full speed. And whenever it occupies more space, time or money than one can afford, the person will fall into an abyss from which only lots of determination, love and support can save them.
One of the crucial factors in providing help to problem gamblers and those stuck in gambling limbo is the support of their loved ones. Compulsive gambling can do a lot of harm not only to gamblers but to all those around them, and it is precisely them - their family and friends - who can help preventing the addiction or eliminate it if it already exists.
How to recognize the first symptoms? As mentioned above, any excessive spending of time and/or money on gambling, reckless behavior toward others in order to satisfy the urge to gamble, or loss of track should be taken as a serious sign of a problem. It's all about awareness - gambling should just be lots of fun and when it loses its charms as entertainment and becomes an obsession, it's time to react.
Another factor that may prove to be more than helpful in getting problem gamblers out of their issues are different organizations that provide anonymity to those in need and are willing to lend a helping hand anytime you need them. Their services include not only 24/7 help lines for everyone going through a problem and everyone around them, but there are also awareness-raising workshops, therapy sessions, and other types of guidance for anonymous gamblers and their family members.
Organizations such as those mentioned above include not only global ones (which may have the biggest impact on the worldwide level), like gamblersanonymous.org, responsiblegambling.org,and gamtalk.org, but also more locally orien ted ones that prefer dedicating attention to problem gambling on a national/state level: ncpgambling.org, http://www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/getting-help, gamcare.co.uk, problemgambling.ca, gamblingproblem.co.nz and many others.
Whatever your situation or the position of someone close to you, remember one thing: problem gambling isn't invincible and help is there for you at all times. All you need to do on your part is ask for it.