When Gambling Becomes a Problem

Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which you stake something valuable on an event that is at least partly determined by chance. This can include betting on sports, games of chance or skill like slot machines and bingo, and even buying lottery tickets and office pool contests. Gambling can also be a way to spend time with friends or family and to socialize, but some people become addicted to it. It’s important to recognise when gambling becomes a problem and to seek help.

Compulsive gamblers may experience severe problems in their relationships, work and education, and are likely to be at risk for mood disorders such as depression or stress. These conditions can both trigger gambling problems and make them worse. Getting help for these conditions is essential, as they will still affect your life, even once you have overcome your gambling addiction.

While there are no medications available to treat gambling disorder, there are many different psychotherapy techniques that can help you reclaim your life. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common type of psychological treatment for gambling disorders and involves a trained mental health professional helping you identify unhealthy thoughts and emotions and change them. Psychotherapy can also teach you healthier ways to cope with stress and other negative emotions.

Another technique is motivational interviewing, a conversation-based approach that empowers you to solve your uncertainties about healthy changes in your gambling habits. In this form of treatment, your provider helps you compare your problematic gambling patterns with those of the general population to push you to adopt healthier behaviors. Motivational interviewing is often combined with CBT for gambling disorder, as both approaches can be effective in addressing this particular condition.

You can find support for a gambling problem by joining a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. You can also seek out help from your doctor, a social worker or a therapist who specializes in substance abuse and addictions. Regardless of which kind of treatment you choose, remember that the biggest step is admitting that you have a problem. This can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you’ve lost money or strained your relationships because of gambling.

Some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity, and can easily develop a gambling problem. Cultural values and attitudes about gambling can also influence your perception of whether it’s harmful or not.

It’s important to manage your bankroll carefully, and never bet more than you can afford to lose. You should also monitor how much time you’re spending on gambling, as this can quickly add up. Having a healthy lifestyle can also reduce the urge to gamble, as it will give you more healthy and positive ways to spend your time. You could try taking up a hobby, exercising or trying to improve your relationships with loved ones. You can even consider getting a pet to keep you company and distract you from gambling.