How to Overcome an Addiction to Gambling
Gambling is the act of risking something of value (money, property or personal items) on an outcome based on chance. It can be done for fun, as a pastime or to win money. It is a behaviour that involves a high degree of impulsivity, and is often associated with sensation-seeking, arousal and negative emotions. People can also become addicted to gambling because of a combination of psychological factors, including their genetic predisposition and how they process reward information in their brains.
Gambling can be a very addictive activity and if left untreated, it can cause serious financial problems for individuals and their families. There are a number of effective treatment options for gambling addiction, including individual and family counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy and financial counseling. Psychological therapies can help address underlying issues that may be contributing to the gambling addiction, such as anxiety, depression or social isolation. Counselling can also help the person with an addiction to gambling develop new skills for dealing with their urges and coping with life’s stresses.
While the main reason that people gamble is to win money, there are many other reasons why people do it. For example, some people gamble as a way to change their mood, or because they enjoy the social aspect of playing games with friends. The euphoria that gambling causes is linked to the release of dopamine, which is one of the brain’s reward chemicals. People with an addictive personality can find it very hard to stop gambling, even when they are losing a lot of money or their relationships are suffering.
It is estimated that worldwide, legal gambling activities generate more than $10 trillion in annual turnover. The largest forms of gambling include lotteries and organised football (soccer) pools, both of which are widely available in most countries around the world. In addition, betting on horse races and other sporting events is a popular form of gambling.
The main problem with gambling is that the chances of winning are incredibly small, and most players will lose more than they win. This can lead to feelings of despair and depression, and a vicious cycle where the person continues to gamble in an attempt to recoup their losses.
Despite these risks, people can overcome their addictions to gambling and rebuild their lives. The first step is admitting that there is a problem and seeking help. Some people choose to seek support from a friend or relative, and others attend peer groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. It is important to realise that you don’t have to tackle this alone, and that many other people have successfully dealt with their gambling addiction. You can also access online support for gamblers and their loved ones through websites such as Gam-Anon. This is a confidential service run by former gamblers who have experienced the same issues as you. The website allows you to find a therapist near you and to register for a free trial session, so that you can decide whether the service is right for you.