Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves placing something of value on the outcome of a random event, such as rolling a dice, flipping a coin or drawing a card. It can be a fun way to socialise with friends, or escape from stress and anxiety. But for some people, gambling can become a serious problem. It can cause financial loss, affect relationships, and even lead to homelessness. It can also have a negative impact on mental health, with a high number of suicides linked to gambling.

Despite this, there are a variety of gambling addiction treatment options available. Some are based on psychotherapy, which is a talking therapy that helps you identify and change unhealthy thoughts and behaviours. Other treatments involve behavioural modification and self-help tips. For example, you can try to avoid high-risk situations, such as carrying a lot of cash or using credit cards. You can also try to distract yourself with other activities, such as exercise, socialising or relaxing. You may also find that talking about your gambling problems with someone who will not judge you can help.

Many of the same things that make gambling attractive — such as a quick fix, a sense of excitement and an illusion of control — can lead to a gambling addiction. It is thought that the addictive process mimics how drug addiction works, causing changes in the brain. There is no cure for gambling disorder, but there are a number of treatment and support services that can be accessed through your local healthcare professionals or online.

People with a gambling problem often hide their habit and lie to friends and family members about how much they spend. They also tend to become irritable, anxious and depressed when they cannot gamble, and they may start spending more time at their workplace or away from their families. They may even start stealing money to fund their gambling.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists website offers advice for anyone worried about gambling. It suggests seeking help from a GP or psychologist, trying self-help tips and joining a support group like Gamblers Anonymous. Many state-based support services are available too.

If you have a gambling problem, it’s important to seek help because this can harm your physical and mental health, damage your relationship with your family and friends and interfere with work or study. It can also have an impact on your children and other family members. You should also consider getting help for any underlying mood disorders, such as depression, stress and anxiety, which can trigger or make gambling worse. These conditions can be treated with medication or psychotherapy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve any medications to treat gambling disorders, but some types of psychotherapy can help. For example, cognitive-behaviour therapy teaches you to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. It can also help you confront irrational beliefs, such as the notion that a series of losses or close calls — such as two out of three cherries on a slot machine — are signals of an imminent win.