While most adults and adolescents have placed a bet of some kind, many people develop a problem with gambling that can cause significant distress and disruption to their lives. Some of these problems are so serious that they qualify as gambling disorder, which is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). While it can be difficult to admit that you have a problem with gambling, seeking treatment is the first step toward overcoming your addiction and rebuilding your life.
Gambling involves the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value, such as money or another item of perceived value. It can include games such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker and baccarat that are played in brick-and-mortar or online casinos; sports betting; lottery tickets; and video games that have a gambling element for both adults and children. It can also take the form of social gambling, which is playing card or board games for a small amount of money with friends, joining a friendly lottery or football pool or purchasing a group of lottery tickets with coworkers.
Humans are biologically wired to seek rewards. When we engage in healthy behaviors, such as spending time with loved ones or enjoying a nutritious meal, our brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which makes us feel good. Unfortunately, gambling can also trigger this feeling, even when we’re losing. As a result, we continue to gamble in the hopes of a big win, which can lead to financial ruin and damaged relationships.
Fortunately, there are several treatments available for people with a gambling disorder. These treatments can help you learn to recognize and resist the urge to gamble. You can try psychodynamic therapy, which focuses on unconscious processes that may affect your behavior; family therapy, which can help you repair damaged relationships; and cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can teach you to manage problematic gambling behaviors.
Another important part of recovery is learning to avoid situations that might prompt a gambling urge. For example, it’s a good idea to avoid casinos, which are designed to keep you gambling. You should also remove credit cards from your wallet and set up automatic payments, close online betting accounts, and only gamble with disposable income that you don’t need to pay essential bills.
Finally, don’t get sucked into the myth that luck plays a role in gambling. No matter how skilled you are at the game or how lucky you feel, your odds of winning are based on random chance. If you start to believe that you are due for a big win, it’s a sign that you need to stop gambling and seek help. Gambling is dangerous, and it’s easy to lose not just your money but your health, relationships, and career as well. Don’t let it destroy your life. Get matched with a therapist now. It’s free, confidential, and 100% online. You could be on the way to a more fulfilling life in as little as 48 hours!