How to Recognize When Gambling Has Become a Problem


Gambling is the risking of something of value (money, property or personal items) on an outcome involving chance. It can occur in many forms, such as scratchcards, casino games and betting on sports events. People who gamble often experience a range of harmful effects, including problems with family and friends, work, finances, health and well-being and relationships. Problem gambling can lead to bankruptcy, legal problems and even suicide. It is important to know when gambling becomes a problem, and there are many different types of help available for those who need it.

When you are tempted to gamble, try to distract yourself with other activities. Avoid isolation and use positive coping techniques like meditation, exercise or spending time with friends. If you have a lot of money saved up, consider putting it somewhere safe, or having someone else manage it for you. You can also reduce the temptation by closing accounts, removing credit cards from your wallet, not visiting gambling websites and only carrying a small amount of cash on you.

People who have a gambling disorder have trouble recognizing when their gambling is out of control. They may downplay or lie about their gambling, or they might try to hide the amount of money they’re spending. They may also rely on other people to fund their gambling or to cover losses. They might spend more and more time gambling, or they might continue to gamble even if it causes harm to their health, finances, education and/or professional life.

It’s hard to battle gambling disorder on your own, so you should seek the support of loved ones and a mental health professional. Treatment options include psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and psychodynamic therapy. These therapies aim to increase your self-awareness and improve your ability to recognize and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns. You can also benefit from group therapy, which offers moral support from peers with similar struggles.

One of the most common reasons for a person to have a gambling problem is an attempt to escape negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression. The reward center of the brain is stimulated by these emotions, and a person’s brain responds by looking for ways to feel better. This is why people turn to gambling as a way to cope with unpleasant feelings, and why they can become addicted to the feeling of pleasure and achievement that comes from winning.

Some people are more at risk of developing a gambling disorder than others. They might have a history of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, or they might have other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders and eating disorders. They might also have a history of alcohol or substance abuse. Some people may also have a genetic tendency to develop gambling disorders, and research is ongoing to understand how this works.