Losing Control of Your Gambling

Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value (as money) on an event whose result may be determined by chance or accident, with the hope of gaining some other thing of value. It is a popular activity with many different forms. It can be done legally in regulated places such as casinos, racetracks, sports arenas and online. It can also be illegal. Regardless of where it is performed, gambling involves several psychological processes that occur in common: a decision, risk and a prize.

There are a number of ways in which people can lose control when gambling, resulting in problems for themselves and others. Often, the root of the problem is a lack of self-control and/or impulsivity. These problems are sometimes exacerbated by certain cognitive distortions that affect how we process information and make decisions. These distortions include elevated confidence and overestimating the chances of winning. These distorted cognitions can lead to excessive gambling and problems with finances, relationships and work.

In addition to causing financial problems, gambling can cause emotional distress and social disruptions. In some cases, it can even lead to a mental health diagnosis such as problem gambling disorder or compulsive gambler syndrome. Problem gambling can cause stress, anxiety and depression and can impair a person’s ability to function in their everyday lives. It can also cause people to withdraw from their friends and family and isolate themselves.

Although there are a variety of treatment and recovery programs available, the most effective way to overcome a gambling addiction is to seek help from a qualified professional. There are a number of different types of treatment options, including residential and outpatient treatment, peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, therapy and medication. Inpatient and residential programs are intended for individuals with severe gambling addictions who can’t manage without round-the-clock care.

There are a few things that everyone can do to decrease their gambling urges and prevent them from getting out of control. Start by putting some boundaries in place and removing temptations. This might mean removing your credit cards, having someone else be in charge of your money or closing your online betting accounts. It’s also important to get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat healthy food. Additionally, try to avoid consuming alcohol before and during gambling sessions as it will dull your decision-making skills. It is also helpful to talk about your problems with a trusted friend or a family member. Professional counselling is also a good option, especially family, marriage, career and credit counseling. These services can help you work through the specific issues that have been created by your gambling and set the foundation for repairing your relationships and finances.