Recognising and Dealing With Gambling Problems


Gambling is an activity in which a person wagers something of value on an event with the intention of winning something else of value. It can be done in a casino, on a racetrack, at home, or online. A gambling problem can impact people from any walk of life and can lead to financial disaster, strained relationships, and other problems. It can also make it difficult to find work and can even cause thoughts of suicide.

Some people may have a genetic predisposition to gambling, or they could be wired differently in how their brains process reward information and control impulses. Certain medications can also affect how people gamble, as can a number of other factors. Some communities may have a strong culture of gambling, which can make it harder to recognize when someone is struggling.

If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling, help is available. It’s important to talk about it – whether with a trusted friend, a family member or non-judgemental support from the GamCare helpline. Gambling can be an enjoyable pastime for most people, but it’s important to recognise when it becomes a problem.

Problem gambling can involve a variety of activities, such as betting on sports events, buying lottery tickets, scratch cards, video poker and slot machines in casinos, or on the Internet. It can be a way to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as boredom, loneliness or anger. People with mental health problems are more at risk of gambling because they often use it as a way to distract themselves from painful emotions or to self-soothe, and there’s a link between harmful gambling and suicide.

It’s important to remember that gambling is not a way to make money, and it’s always a risk to spend more than you can afford to lose. It’s also a good idea to only ever gamble with disposable income and not money that you need to pay bills or rent. It’s also worth allocating a set amount of this disposable income to gambling, so that when it is gone you know it’s time to stop.

It’s a good idea to set clear boundaries with a loved one who is struggling with gambling. For example, it might be helpful to set limits on credit card use, have them take over payment of household bills, or close their online betting accounts. It can also be helpful to find other ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.