Dealing With Gambling Problems


Gambling involves putting something of value on an event that is at least partly determined by chance and with the hope of winning a prize. While many people think of casinos and slot machines, gambling can also include playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch cards, and betting on sports events or political outcomes. It can even involve making bets with friends over who will win an office pool.

While some people who gamble do not have a problem, others become addicted and experience serious consequences. These may include problems at work or school, trouble with the law, financial disaster, and even homelessness. People who have a gambling disorder often deny or minimise their problem and try to hide their activities from others. They may spend more time at the casino or lie to family and friends about their spending habits. They might even start hiding money they have won.

Some people are prone to becoming addicted to gambling because of certain genes or temperaments. However, other factors such as family history, environment, and peer group can contribute to a person’s susceptibility to the addictive behaviour. People with a history of depression or anxiety are also more likely to have a gambling problem.

People who develop a gambling addiction often struggle to stop because they find it hard to control their urges, have difficulty thinking of other things to do, and feel depressed when they lose. They might use drugs or alcohol to deal with these feelings, and have trouble concentrating. It is important for people who have a gambling problem to recognise these symptoms and get help.

It is estimated that about 2 million adults (1%) meet the criteria for a severe gambling problem in a given year and another 4-6 million (2-3%) have mild to moderate gambling problems. Many of these people do not receive any treatment for their gambling disorder. However, treatments are available, and the evidence suggests that some of these therapies can be effective in helping people with a gambling disorder.

A therapist can help people understand their gambling behaviour, identify triggers, and learn new skills to overcome their problems. Other types of therapy that can be useful are family therapy, marriage counselling and career and credit counseling. It is important for people to surround themselves with supportive people and avoid tempting environments and websites when trying to break the gambling habit.

It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit you have a gambling problem, especially if it has cost you your life savings or caused damage to your relationships. Getting help is the first step towards recovery. It can be difficult to maintain recovery, especially in a world where gambling is readily available all day, every day. However, it is possible to quit gambling and lead a healthy, happy life if you surround yourself with supportive people, avoid temptations, give up credit cards and online betting accounts, and replace gambling with healthier activities.