Understanding Gambling Problems


Gambling is the wagering of something of value, with the intention of winning something else of value. It includes all forms of betting, whether it is on a horse race, game of chance, or event where instances of strategy are discounted (Nature Human Behaviour, 2018). Gambling has been around for thousands of years and it is a widespread activity in many societies. Despite its prevalence, there are risks associated with gambling that are important to understand. The first step in overcoming gambling problems is admitting you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to do this, especially if you’ve lost money or strained or broken relationships as a result of your behavior.

The good news is that gambling disorders are treatable, and there are several types of psychotherapy that can help you get control of your problem. These treatments are delivered by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker. In addition to psychotherapy, there are several medication options available that can help with gambling disorders. However, these medications are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and they tend to have side effects that can be difficult to tolerate.

Symptoms of a gambling disorder are similar to other mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or substance use disorders. The key to identifying and treating a gambling problem is seeking help before it spirals out of control. It’s also important to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your gambling behaviors, such as family history of gambling problems or personality traits.

Why People Gamble

Many people gamble for a variety of reasons. Some do it to relieve stress, others because it gives them a feeling of euphoria that triggers the brain’s reward system. Still others do it to make money, although this isn’t always a primary motivation. In fact, research has shown that most people who are addicted to gambling don’t do it for the money, but rather because it makes them feel good (International Gambling Studies, 2013).

Tips on Avoiding Gambling Problems

To avoid gambling problems, set a time limit when you start gambling and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to gamble on credit, and don’t use your children or other people’s money to fund your gambling. Also, don’t gamble when you’re stressed or upset and don’t try to chase your losses by increasing your bets.

It’s also important to balance gambling with other activities, such as friends, family, work, and hobbies. Also, don’t drink alcohol while you’re gambling because it can impair your judgment. It’s also a good idea to tip dealers and cocktail waitresses regularly, preferably with chips rather than cash. The more you tip, the less likely you are to gamble recklessly. If you do find yourself gambling, make sure to leave before your time limit runs out and don’t try to win back the money you’ve lost. By following these simple tips, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing a gambling disorder.