Gambling is a popular pastime for many people that involves betting money or material possessions on an outcome based on chance. It can be done on sports events, video games, online casino sites, and even scratchcards. It can be extremely addictive, and some people are more at risk than others of developing a gambling addiction. If you or a family member is concerned that you may be suffering from a gambling problem, there are a number of things you can do to seek help.
One way to tackle a gambling problem is to strengthen your support network. This could mean spending more time with friends and family, joining a new club or group activity, enrolling in a class or education course, or volunteering for a worthy cause. You could also try a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups can provide invaluable guidance and encouragement in the struggle to overcome a gambling addiction.
Another important way to combat a gambling addiction is to avoid gambling with the money you need to pay bills and live on. This can be difficult, especially if you’re a big gambler who has built up a substantial bankroll, but it is necessary to protect yourself from financial ruin.
A third way to fight a gambling addiction is to take steps to control your finances. For example, you can stop using credit cards or make an effort to spend less money than usual. You can also set aside money to save for a rainy day. If you’re struggling to manage your finances, you can speak to a debt adviser for free, confidential advice.
Many people gamble for the adrenaline rush, to socialise, or as a form of entertainment. While some people do have a gambling disorder, it’s often hard to recognise if you have a problem because the behaviour is so normalised. You might hide your gambling, start lying about how much you bet or spend on it, or feel guilty about wasting your money.
It’s essential to know that gambling isn’t just about losing money – it can be dangerous to your mental health. Research has shown that gambling triggers a similar reaction in the brain to taking drugs, and repeated exposure can lead to psychological problems. Those with depression and anxiety can be particularly susceptible to harmful gambling. In addition, there’s a link between gambling and thoughts of suicide, so anyone who has these symptoms should be treated as an emergency and seek immediate medical attention. It’s also worth considering seeking help from a GP or psychologist. This can be an effective treatment for underlying mental health issues, which can contribute to problematic gambling behaviour. It’s also recommended to avoid mixing gambling with other substances like alcohol, and find ways to relax without gambling, such as exercising, going for walks, or reading.