Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, putting a bet on a sporting event or throwing dice in the casino, gambling involves taking a risk for a chance at a reward. It’s a form of entertainment that can provide an adrenaline rush and a thrill, but it’s important to recognise when gambling becomes a problem. People gamble for a variety of reasons: to win money, socialise, and escape from worries or stress. For some, this can become problematic and lead to an addiction. If you think you have a gambling disorder, seek help and try these self-help tips.
The most common reason to gamble is for the thrill of winning. When you win, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine that makes you feel happy. This feeling is similar to the reward you get from healthy behaviors, like spending time with family and friends, eating nutritious food or exercising. In fact, the more you gamble, the more dopamine is released. This dopamine release makes you want to keep gambling, even if you’re losing money.
Gambling is also a way to satisfy basic human needs, such as a sense of belonging or a need for status or specialness. This is why casinos are built to foster this sense of belonging, by providing a high-end experience and elaborate marketing campaigns. This is why it’s so easy to fall into the trap of gambling addiction, despite the risks and costs.
A person can develop a gambling disorder for any of the following reasons:
While there are no medications approved by the FDA to treat gambling disorders, psychotherapy can be helpful. Psychotherapy is a term for different types of treatment techniques, which are designed to change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It can be done on your own or with a mental health professional.
The best way to prevent a gambling problem is to only gamble with money you can afford to lose. It’s also important to set a money limit for yourself before you walk onto the casino floor and stick to it. It’s also a good idea to set a timer, as it can be easy to lose track of how much time has passed by while you’re gambling.
It’s important to find ways to deal with stress and worry outside of gambling. Some suggestions include exercise, meditation, yoga, and prayer. Other options include joining a support group, getting counselling and finding other activities to do with your time. Avoiding drugs and alcohol, handling stress in a healthier manner, and getting rid of any co-occurring mental health conditions can also help. If you have a problem, seek help and reach out to loved ones for support.