Gambling As an Addiction

Gambling is the wagering of money or other valuables on an event with a chance of winning something of value. It varies from the purchase of lottery tickets or betting on horse or greyhound races to more sophisticated casino gambling. People gamble for many reasons, including to win money, experience a thrill or socialize. For some people, it becomes an addiction and has serious ramifications. It can affect their health, relationships and work performance, as well as get them into trouble with the law or even homeless.

Many individuals engage in gambling as a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions or feelings, such as boredom, loneliness, sadness, anxiety or anger. The misperception is that gambling offers low risk and high reward, but in reality, the odds are always stacked against the player. Additionally, gambling can trigger negative moods and make it difficult to cope with them.

The term ‘problem gambling’ refers to an individual’s gambling behavior that causes significant distress or impairment in their daily life. It may lead to legal and financial problems, harm to family members, relationships, performance at work or studies, poor mental and physical health and can result in death.

Problem gambling is a mental health disorder and can be treated with therapy. There are a number of different types of therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing. During CBT, individuals work with a therapist to identify faulty thoughts and behaviors, such as feeling “due for a win” after a string of losses, and learn tools to change these distorted thoughts. During motivational interviewing, a therapist helps an individual explore their values and priorities to see how their gambling is negatively impacting them.

In addition to these therapeutic approaches, there are a variety of non-pharmacological treatment options for problem gambling. These include family therapy, peer support groups and a 12-step recovery program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. These programs are a great way to build support networks, set boundaries in managing finances and develop healthy coping strategies.

If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling, seek help today. It’s never too late to turn things around. Reach out to your support network, and find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings or boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or learning relaxation techniques. Also, remember to avoid chasing your losses. The more you try to win back your money, the more likely you are to lose it all again. So set a time limit when you’re gambling, and leave when you hit that mark – whether you’re winning or losing. Don’t use credit to gamble, and don’t play when you’re upset or depressed. You might also consider joining a family therapy group to receive support from others who have experienced similar challenges. This can help you feel less alone and better able to cope with your loved one’s problem. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to stay strong and help your loved one overcome this challenge.


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