Dealing With Gambling Addiction


Gambling is the act of wagering something of value on a random event with the hope of winning a prize. This can include a variety of casino games such as slots, roulette, blackjack and poker, or sports betting on events such as horse racing and football. Whether it’s for fun or for money, gambling is an addictive activity that can lead to serious consequences. The term “gambling addiction” is not a clinical diagnosis, but it is an increasingly common problem for people of all ages and backgrounds. The most important thing to remember is that there are treatment options available.

The most effective approach to tackling a gambling addiction is behavioral therapy. These techniques help patients learn to resist their urges and irrational beliefs, such as the belief that a near miss—say, two out of three cherries on a slot machine—signals an imminent win. Dozens of studies support the effectiveness of these therapies. Another effective option is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches patients how to replace unhealthy thoughts and habits with more constructive ones.

In addition to psychological therapies, there are also a number of community-based programs that offer support and help individuals overcome gambling problems. Many of these are modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, and involve finding a sponsor and following a 12-step program. These programs are not only highly successful, but can provide a foundation for long-term recovery.

Some of these programs also teach coping skills, such as budgeting, money management and the use of credit cards. They can also help participants develop an interest in alternative activities, such as volunteering or taking up a new hobby. Finally, they can help participants re-establish their family relationships and repair damaged finances.

While most gamblers enjoy the excitement and adrenaline rush of winning, others have a more serious problem. Pathological gambling, or gambling disorder, is a type of addiction that affects around 4% of the population. It is a serious mental health issue that can have severe negative impacts on the person’s quality of life and those of their significant other. It is often associated with other psychiatric disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder.

Although many people consider gambling to be a social activity, it can have many harmful effects on society. While some of these are monetary, other social costs are unmeasurable. A good way to measure social impacts is to look at the health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights, which are used by economists to calculate the cost/benefits of a health state on an individual’s wellbeing.

In order to combat gambling addiction, it is important to know how to recognise the signs of a problem and take action early on. It is also important to set financial and time limits for yourself when gambling and never chase your losses. If you suspect that you have a gambling addiction, seek medical help immediately. A qualified therapist will be able to assess your situation and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment for you.