Breaking the Gambling Habit


Whether you’re a fan of slot machines, casino tables, football accumulators or lottery tickets, gambling is an enjoyable pastime that gives a rush when luck moves in your favor. However, it can also cause significant harm to your health, relationships and finances. The first step to breaking the gambling habit is admitting that you have a problem. After that, you can seek therapy and find non-judgemental support. Then, you can start to make positive changes and build a better life.

Traditionally, gambling is an activity where someone risks money or belongings for a chance to win more than they have invested. There is an element of randomness or chance involved and the aim is to win. However, new technology and the different ways people gamble have blurred the lines and expanded the range of activities that can be considered gambling.

While it is possible to gamble responsibly, many people become addicted to the game. Problem gambling is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences for individuals and their families. It can lead to debt, loss of a job or even homelessness. The compulsion to gamble can even have a detrimental effect on a person’s mental health, resulting in depression or anxiety. In addition, it can have a negative impact on a person’s family, friends and career.

The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to ancient China, where tiles were found that appeared to be used for a rudimentary form of lottery-type gaming. The ancient Greeks and Romans also indulged in gambling, with the games evolving into poker and other card games. Modern casinos, arcades and online sites offer a variety of gambling opportunities, from card games to sports betting and lotteries.

In the past, the psychiatric community generally viewed pathological gambling as a compulsion rather than an addiction, although some experts believe it should be treated in the same way as other impulse control disorders such as kleptomania or trichotillomania (hair pulling). However, the American Psychiatric Association has recently moved pathological gambling into the Addictions chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

One key aspect of responsible gambling is knowing your limits. Never spend more than you can afford to lose, and be sure to set both money and time limits in advance. Also, keep in mind that you are likely to lose more than you win. Consider the money you are spending as the cost of your entertainment, and any winnings as a bonus. Never chase your losses – this can often lead to bigger and bigger losses.

Seek help for underlying mood disorders. Depression, stress or substance abuse can both trigger compulsive gambling and make it harder to quit. Seeking therapy and getting treatment for these conditions will make it much easier to break the gambling habit. Then, you can focus on re-building your relationship with yourself and others, building a stable career and developing healthy financial habits.