When Gambling Has Become a Problem

When Gambling Has Become a Problem

Gambling involves risking money or other items of value on an event involving chance, such as a lottery, a game of cards, a slot machine or betting with friends. If you predict the outcome of a gambling event correctly, you win money. If you lose, you lose what you gambled on. Some people do gambling for fun and are not affected by it, but for others, it can have serious consequences for their health and relationships, job and study performance and even lead to homelessness. It is important to know when gambling has become a problem and take action to stop it.

Problem gambling affects adolescents and adults and can be treated with psychotherapy, medication or other treatments. Psychotherapy is a broad term that refers to a range of treatment techniques, most of which involve talking to a mental health professional. It can include individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy. In some cases, psychotherapy may be combined with other treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to help a person identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors related to gambling.

Symptoms of gambling disorder include an urge to gamble, difficulty controlling the amount you spend and lying to family and friends about your gambling habits. Other symptoms can be a decrease in interest in social activities and hobbies, feelings of anxiety or depression and increased aggression. People who struggle with problem gambling often feel isolated and lonely.

When a person has a gambling disorder, they become stuck in a pattern of behavior that is hard to break. The pattern is fuelled by the hope of replicating an early big win, the illusion of control and the use of gambling as a way to escape boredom or stress.

In addition, gambling can cause financial problems and increase a person’s risk of self-harm. Unlike most other addictions, gambling doesn’t require the ingesting of chemical substances and can cause the same dopamine response in the brain. However, for some people, the dopamine release can be manipulated to encourage gambling behaviours and increase addiction.

The best way to prevent gambling problems is to avoid it. To do this, you can set time and money limits for yourself when gambling, avoid chasing your losses or trying to win back what you’ve lost and find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings. For example, you could learn to relax with healthy activities such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques. You should also make it a rule to never gamble on credit or borrow money to gamble and try to keep gambling separate from other leisure activities. To minimise the risk of gambling, you can also reduce your access to casinos and online betting sites by closing accounts or having someone else manage your finances. If you’re worried about your or someone’s gambling, there are many organisations that provide support and assistance for those struggling with gambling disorders.