Gambling Addiction – How to Control Your Gambling Habit

Gambling is a game of chance in which you place a bet on an event with uncertain or undetermined results. It can include betting on football games, scratchcards, video poker, and even the lottery. When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that makes you excited. This response can lead to addiction, which is why it’s important to practice good money management skills and know your limits.

Problem gambling is a serious issue that affects millions of people. It can lead to debt, credit problems and family discord. It’s also dangerous to your physical and mental health. However, help is available. It’s possible to control your gambling habits and get back on track. The first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms of problem gambling and find healthy ways to cope with unpleasant feelings.

There are many different treatments and support groups for gambling addiction. Some are based on cognitive behavioral therapy, while others use mindfulness exercises or 12-step programs modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, you can strengthen your support network and make new friends who don’t gamble. You can also join a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is estimated that 2.5 million Americans (about 1% of the population) meet diagnostic criteria for a severe gambling disorder. In addition, another 5-8 million adults have mild or moderate gambling problems. Pathological gambling has become increasingly recognized in the medical community as a real disorder and is now included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

The most effective way to prevent or treat gambling addiction is to avoid high-risk situations. This includes staying away from casinos and online gambling sites, avoiding sportsbook apps on your smartphone and removing credit cards from your wallet so you can’t autofill on gambling websites. You should also be careful not to socialize in venues where gambling is taking place.

To control your gambling habit, set a budget before you go to the casino and stick to it. Be sure to include your daily expenses and a small amount for fun. Also, be sure to leave your credit cards and other nonessential cash at home. Finally, try to balance gambling with other activities, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and learning new hobbies.

When you’re feeling bored or lonely, turn to other activities for entertainment. You can also try practicing relaxation techniques, exercising, or reading a book. Avoid gambling when you’re depressed or upset. It’s hard to think clearly and make sound decisions when you’re in these moods. Instead, find healthier ways to self-soothe unpleasant emotions or relieve boredom, such as exercising, socializing with friends who don’t gamble and practicing mindful meditation. It is also helpful to find healthy ways to manage stress and improve your mood, such as by making lifestyle changes, seeking counseling or joining a support group. This article was provided by the National Council on Problem Gambling.