How to Prevent a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is betting something of value on a random event with the intent to win something else of value. In some cases, gambling can be dangerous. This is particularly true for people who develop a gambling disorder, which is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as compulsive or addictive gambling. Developing a gambling disorder can have serious consequences for individuals, families and communities, but there are ways to help stop it.

A key step in treating a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem, which can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships in the process. Once you’ve come to terms with your addiction, it’s important to find a therapist who can provide support and counseling. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, but therapy can help you understand your behaviors, think about how they affect you and others, and consider options for change.

Various factors can contribute to the development of a gambling disorder, including personality traits, coexisting mental health conditions, and environmental circumstances. People who develop a gambling disorder often have difficulty controlling their emotions and impulses, especially when they’re stressed or feeling bored. They may also have a hard time distinguishing between right and wrong. In addition, they might be more likely to lie and downplay their gambling habits to family members and friends.

Another common risk factor for a gambling disorder is depression. Studies have shown that up to 50% of pathological gamblers have lifetime mood disorders, and depressive symptoms tend to precede or follow gambling behavior. However, a person can still develop a gambling disorder even if they don’t have depression or other mood disorders.

In many cultures, gambling has been associated with fate or destiny, which has contributed to the stigma against it. Many religious groups, for example, have laws against gambling that are designed to protect the faithful from becoming addicted to the games of chance. However, the practice is still common in many countries, and it’s easy for people to get caught up in a cycle of addiction without realizing it.

The best way to prevent a gambling addiction is to make sure that you’re only spending money that you can afford to lose. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund and to keep track of the money you spend on gambling. In addition, you can distract yourself by exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or participating in a support group for gamblers. You can also try a self-help program like Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you’re feeling a strong urge to gamble, postpone it for a few minutes. This can give you the time you need to focus on other activities and allow the urge to pass or weaken. You can also reach out to a loved one for support or contact a gambling helpline.