Whether it’s buying a lotto ticket, betting on horse racing or using the pokies, many people gamble at some point in their lives. For some, gambling can become an addictive behaviour that has a negative impact on their life and the lives of those around them. The good news is that help is available. There are a number of effective treatment options, and many success stories to inspire people who are struggling with gambling addiction.
Several factors contribute to gambling addiction. Some are biological, such as the brain’s response to reward and risk. Other factors include a person’s personality and temperament, culture, and their social environment. People with a family history of gambling addiction are more likely to develop the disorder themselves. And certain groups, such as young people and men, are at higher risk than others.
Some people may use gambling as a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions or unwind, but there are healthier ways to do this. For example, exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques can all be good alternatives. In addition, learning to play a casino game such as blackjack or poker can be a great way to socialize with friends and challenge your brain.
It’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms of a gambling problem so that you can get the help you need. If you think you have a gambling problem, talk to your doctor or a counsellor. They can help you understand why you gamble, work through your concerns and consider options for change. There are no medications that treat gambling disorders, but counselling and cognitive-behaviour therapy have been shown to be effective in helping people overcome their problems.
Gambling is a popular pastime and provides jobs, tax revenue and entertainment for many communities. Nevertheless, there are significant costs to society from problem gambling and the harm it causes. Some of these costs are monetary, but there are also social and psychological costs that are often overlooked.
Many studies of gambling have focused on monetary costs and benefits, but these ignore important social and environmental impacts. For instance, research on social costs has typically ignored the effect of gambling on quality of life and the community, and has neglected to examine irrational beliefs that gambling is a source of motivation or achievement.
Developing an understanding of the risks and benefits of gambling can help you decide if it’s right for you. It’s important to budget your money and only gamble with what you can afford to lose, and never chase losses. It’s also a good idea to seek professional advice if you find that your gambling is affecting your relationships or work performance. Get matched with a qualified therapist in as little as 48 hours. The world’s largest online counseling service. 100% confidential and secure. Join today to receive your first session for free. This article was written by a Psychologist from the University of Sydney.