Gambling Addiction

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event of chance for a prize. The term “gambling” is used to describe a number of different activities, including casino games, horse racing, poker, lottery and bingo. The defining feature of gambling is that it involves the risk of losing money or other valuable items. While most people gamble without any problems, some do develop an addiction to the activity. Problem gambling can have serious financial, emotional and personal consequences for those who engage in it. Gambling addiction is classified as an impulse control disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5).

A person may become addicted to gambling for a variety of reasons. It can be a way to socialise with friends and family, or it may be an escape from boredom, depression, or grief. People may also turn to gambling to try and solve a financial or emotional problem, such as relationship difficulties, debt, unemployment, or health issues. Gambling is often associated with a high level of stress and can lead to increased anxiety, depression, or other symptoms such as migraine, distress and stomach ulcers.

The behaviour of someone who is hooked on gambling can cause significant damage to their relationships, career, and quality of life. It is not known what causes a person to become addicted to gambling, but it can affect anyone and occurs in all parts of society. Some people who develop a gambling habit do not realise that it is a problem until it starts to affect their finances, home, work, or relationships. For many people, the first sign of gambling addiction is lying to others about their gambling habits.

It is important to get help for a gambling problem as soon as possible. A gambling counsellor can provide education and guidance to help the individual understand their gambling problem and provide a range of treatment options, including behavioural therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Some types of counselling also include family and couple therapy. The person with a gambling problem will usually need to stop gambling and take steps to reduce their spending. They should remove their credit cards, ask someone else to be in charge of their finances, and close online betting accounts. They should also avoid chasing their losses, as this can make them even more likely to lose more money in the future. It is also helpful for them to spend time with friends and family who do not gamble and try to find other ways to entertain themselves. They should also be careful when attending social events where gambling is offered, as this can be a trigger for their addictive behaviour. Alternatively, they can use self-help methods, such as writing down their reasons for stopping and reviewing them when the urge to gamble strikes. They should also try to distract themselves with other activities, such as exercising, visiting friends or taking part in hobbies.