Gambling is an activity in which people stake money or anything else of value on a chance event that has the potential to yield a prize. It can include everything from betting on a game of sports to buying lottery tickets to scratch-offs and video poker. Problem gambling can cause serious emotional, physical and financial harm and negatively affect your relationships and job performance. It can also result in debt and homelessness. It is important to recognise the signs of gambling addiction and seek treatment early on.
There are many different treatments available for gambling disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you understand how your thinking and beliefs about gambling influence your behaviour. For example, if you’re superstitious about your lucky numbers or think that certain rituals will bring you luck, CBT can challenge these beliefs and teach you healthier ways to cope with your urge to gamble.
Other forms of psychotherapy can also be helpful. Family and group therapy can educate loved ones about the disorder and support them in their own recovery, as well as help build a stable home environment. Individual therapy can focus on unresolved emotions that may be fueling your impulse to gamble, such as depression, stress, or substance abuse. Psychodynamic therapy is a form of psychotherapy that looks at how unconscious processes influence your behavior, and it can be especially helpful for those struggling with depression or anxiety.
It can be difficult to admit you have a gambling problem, but it’s an essential first step to recovering from it. It takes tremendous strength and courage to face your struggles, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or strained relationships as a result of your gambling habit. But remember that you’re not alone — there are many others who have overcome gambling problems and rebuilt their lives.
You can help a friend or relative with gambling disorder by encouraging them to seek treatment as soon as possible. Encourage them to call a hotline or talk to a mental health professional, go to Gamblers Anonymous, or seek professional support from a mental health charity like GamCare or Mind. Make sure they know that you’re supportive and will not judge them. Speak up for them even if they’re lying about their gambling habits or trying to hide the problem from you.
If you are struggling to control your gambling, try limiting the amount of time you spend gambling or only gamble with disposable income (money that isn’t needed for bills or rent). Never use money that needs to be put towards paying your bills. Also, avoid gambling when you’re feeling depressed or angry. Gambling can make these feelings worse, so it’s best to focus on other hobbies and interests for a while.