Gambling is an activity that involves betting on a random event and can involve money or something else of value. It can be enjoyed by adults for recreational and entertainment purposes, but can become an addictive behaviour. For some people, gambling can lead to serious problems that affect their family and work life. It can also cause psychological distress and may be associated with depression and anxiety. It is important to seek help if you think you are suffering from these symptoms.
Many people have a hobby or interest they enjoy and some have a flutter on a horse race, the lotto or the pokies from time to time. However, it is important to understand the difference between enjoying a flutter and gambling compulsively. If you are losing control of your spending, hiding secret gambling or lying about it to those around you, you may be struggling with a gambling problem.
Gambling can be a dangerous addiction and can affect people of all ages. It is especially dangerous for people who are living with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. It can also impact those who are on low incomes who are more likely to develop a gambling problem. Young people, particularly boys and men, are also more susceptible to developing a gambling addiction than women.
There are several things you can do to help you break the habit of gambling. You can try talking about it with someone who won’t judge you, such as a trusted friend or professional counsellor. You can also reduce financial risk factors by not using credit cards, not borrowing money and not carrying large amounts of cash. You can also make sure gambling doesn’t interfere with or replace other social activities, and find other ways to relax and have fun.
If you are the spouse or partner of a problem gambler, there are support services available for you too. Family therapy and marriage counselling can address the specific issues that have been created by your loved one’s gambling, and can lay the foundation for repairing your relationships and finances. You can also try seeking peer support from a support group for gambling addicts, such as Gamblers Anonymous.
There are no medications to treat gambling disorder, but psychotherapy can be effective. There are a number of different techniques, including family, individual and group psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy. These therapies can help you learn to recognise and change unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and can teach you new coping skills. It is also important to address any other underlying problems that could be contributing to your gambling behaviours, such as stress and depression. It is a difficult thing to admit that you have a gambling problem, but many people have been through this and can rebuild their lives. Seek help as soon as you realise that your gambling is causing harm to yourself, your family and your loved ones.