Gambling involves putting something of value at risk in exchange for an uncertain outcome, such as the chance to win money or other prizes. It’s considered a form of entertainment, but some people develop an addiction to gambling that has harmful consequences.
Gamblers are motivated by the hope of winning money and the desire for a short-term high, similar to the way some people have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The hope of a quick win can also mask feelings like boredom or stress, so people who gamble may feel they need it to cope with these emotions.
Depending on the type of gambling, some people are more vulnerable to developing a problem than others. For example, men are more likely to gamble than women, and a lot of gambling is done by older people. People who are under financial strain or have a mental health condition, such as depression, are also more at risk of harmful gambling.
The first step in assessing whether gambling is harmful for you is to recognise your motivations. Do you gamble to escape boredom or as a way to socialise with friends? If so, try to find other ways of socialising and relieving boredom. This might involve trying different recreational activities or hobbies, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or using relaxation techniques.
Another factor to consider is how you manage your money. If you use credit cards or cash to fund your gambling, you should try to reduce these habits. You can do this by setting budgets for your gambling, and paying off debts as soon as possible. If you are unsure how to do this, speak to an adviser at StepChange.
Many people gamble as a way to socialise and have fun, but it can be harmful if you’re not in control of your finances. Gambling can lead to financial crises, and if this isn’t addressed quickly, it can lead to bankruptcy.
Changing your behaviour is the best way to address problematic gambling. You can do this by talking to a friend or family member, or a professional counsellor. A therapist can help you identify the triggers that cause you to gamble, and support you in finding healthy alternatives. Some therapists specialise in psychodynamic therapy, which looks at unconscious processes that influence your behaviour. Others offer group therapy, which can be helpful for people who have lost contact with friends and family as a result of their gambling. Some also offer family therapy, which is a great way to educate your loved ones about the disorder and create a more stable home environment. They can also offer education and support for children who have been affected by parental gambling problems. A therapist can also recommend self-help books and websites, which can give you practical advice on how to gamble responsibly. You can also learn more about your condition by contacting an organisation that supports people with gambling problems, such as GamCare or BeGambleAware.