How to Cope With a Gambling Addiction

Gambling is when you risk money or something else of value on an event involving chance, such as the outcome of a football match or scratchcard. People gamble for both profit and entertainment, but it can be dangerous if you become addicted. If you have a gambling addiction, it can cause serious problems in your life and those of those closest to you. Read on to find out more about what gambling is, how it works, the risks, and what to do if you’re worried about your own or a loved one’s gambling behaviour.

Problem gambling can affect health and well-being, relationships and performance at work or study, as well as financial circumstances. It can lead to significant debt and even homelessness. It can also trigger mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, which in turn often fuel compulsive gambling. It is important to seek help for these underlying mood issues.

The good news is that you can recover from gambling addiction. The first step is to find a support network, either through friends and family or a peer recovery group such as Gamblers Anonymous. In addition, you can strengthen your support network by taking up a new hobby, joining a book club or sports team, enrolling in a course or volunteering for a charity. This will help you replace the gambling activity with a healthier alternative.

Another important step is to set boundaries in managing your finances. Getting rid of credit cards and having someone else take over payments can help, as will closing online betting accounts and keeping only a small amount of cash on you. You should also consider joining a self-help group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous.

It’s also helpful to recognise the underlying reasons your loved one is gambling, such as a need for thrill or an escape from stress. This will help you understand their behavior better, so you can respond more effectively. For example, they might be seeking a feeling of self-worth or a sense of belonging by winning.

The last thing you should do is to keep up the pressure on your loved one if they are gambling, for instance by constantly berating them or telling them they should be gambling more. This can backfire as they will likely rationalise their actions and say it is just one more time.

In a public health approach to gambling impact assessment, costs and benefits are seen as occurring on three levels: personal, interpersonal and community/society. Personal impacts are invisible and occur within the gambler, whereas interpersonal and community/societal impacts are monetary and include general costs/benefits, the cost of problem gambling, and long-term costs/benefits. Each of these impacts can be seen as either positive or negative. In some cases, they can be both at the same time.