Gambling is wagering something of value on an event that is influenced by chance. This can be done through betting on sports events, horse races, or scratchcards. While most adults and adolescents gamble, some people develop a gambling disorder that causes significant distress or impairment in their life. The disorder is a mental health condition and can be treated with therapy.
The first step is admitting you have a problem. This is a difficult step, especially if your gambling has cost you money or caused strained or broken relationships. It’s also common for affected individuals to try and downplay or hide their gambling habits. But accepting you have a problem is the only way to take control and stop the behaviour.
It’s important to learn healthier ways of managing stress, socializing, and finding enjoyment in your life. Many people turn to gambling as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings or boredom. However, this can lead to an unhealthy cycle of addiction. Instead, try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Gambling can also trigger the brain’s reward center and change your perception of risk. The massive surges of dopamine produced by gambling can make you feel good temporarily, but they’re less satisfying than the pleasure you get from healthy activities. This can result in an unsustainable cycle of gambling to feel good, which can then cause more harm than good.
There are several types of treatment for gambling disorder, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. CBT helps you identify and change unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and behaviors associated with gambling. It also teaches you skills for managing your urges and solving financial, work, and family problems caused by your gambling behavior. Psychotherapy involves talking with a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker.
It is also important to treat any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your compulsive gambling, such as depression or anxiety. Medications and lifestyle changes can help.
It can be tough to cope with a loved one’s gambling disorder, particularly if they ask for “just one more”. But it’s important to remember that you can’t control how much they gamble or what they win, and it’s their responsibility to manage their own finances and credit. You can help by setting boundaries and encouraging them to seek treatment for any underlying issues. It’s also helpful to join a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. For even more help, BetterHelp matches you with a licensed, accredited therapist who can help with your depression or relationship concerns. Start by taking our free assessment today and get matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours. It’s completely confidential and anonymous. We’ll email you your results and recommend a few therapists who can help.