Dealing With Gambling Addictions

Gambling is placing something of value, like money, on an event that is determined by chance for the opportunity to win a prize. The term gambling also includes games of chance such as lottery tickets, scratch-offs, video poker and slot machines. Gambling can happen at casinos, racetracks, bars and restaurants or even online. It can become a serious problem when it takes over people’s lives, straining relationships, interfering with work and leaving them with huge debts or homelessness. It is a risk factor for mental health issues and can increase suicide rates.

Gamblers can be anyone, of any age or social class and it is possible to develop a gambling addiction at any stage in life. Certain factors can increase the likelihood of developing a gambling problem, including family history and medical history, trauma, stress and depression, as well as genetics. People who begin gambling as teenagers and children are at a higher risk for developing a gambling problem.

The first step in addressing a gambling issue is to recognise that there is a problem. It is often difficult to admit that there is a problem, especially when it has strained relationships or caused financial disaster. But it is essential to take action before the problem gets worse. Many organisations offer support, assistance and counselling for people who are experiencing harm from gambling. These services may be aimed at helping people control their gambling or help them stop it completely. They may also provide family and friends with support. Some also offer inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs for people with severe gambling addictions.

It is important to set limits and to have alternative activities that fill the time once spent gambling. Try not to gamble when you are depressed or upset and avoid chasing your losses. You will most likely end up losing more money by trying to recoup your losses. This is known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and it is an easy trap to fall into.

It is also important to be aware that gambling can be addictive and to monitor your spending and bank balances. It is a good idea to talk about your gambling with someone who won’t judge you, such as a friend or counsellor. It’s also a good idea to reduce the number of places you go to gamble and to use credit cards only when absolutely necessary. Finding ways to spend your free time other than gambling is a great way to help you overcome your addiction and to start rebuilding your life. BetterHelp is an online therapy service that matches you with licensed therapists who are trained to help with gambling and other mental health issues. You can complete a short assessment and be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.