How to Recognize a Problem With Gambling


Whether it is buying lotto tickets, placing bets on the horses or using the pokies, gambling involves risking something of value against a chance of winning a prize. While some people gamble responsibly and enjoy the thrill of winning, others become engulfed by their addiction to gambling and end up losing control of their lives. If you have a problem with gambling, understanding what is happening and seeking help can improve your quality of life.

Many people use gambling to relieve unpleasant feelings, socialize, or get an adrenaline rush. But it is important to remember that gambling is a dangerous activity and any losses can have serious financial consequences. To reduce your risk of becoming addicted to gambling, avoid gambling with money you cannot afford to lose and only gamble for entertainment purposes. You can find other ways to relieve unpleasant feelings and boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and taking up new hobbies.

It is also important to recognize that gambling can be a trigger for mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. In addition, a person who has a problem with gambling may lie to family members and therapists in order to hide the extent of their gambling and financial problems. In some cases, people who have a gambling problem will even commit illegal acts in order to fund their habit.

A person who has a problem with gambling has an emotional, physical and financial impact on their families and friends. They often experience stress, shame, guilt and denial. These symptoms can cause the individual to isolate and withdraw from family and friends. They can also lose work and career opportunities. It is important to seek help for a loved one who has a gambling problem and realize that they are not alone.

There are several types of treatments for gambling disorders. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches the addict to resist irrational beliefs, such as the notion that a series of losses means an imminent win. Family therapy can also be helpful in resolving conflicts and rebuilding relationships. Credit counseling can help a person regain control of their finances and establish healthy boundaries.

The DSM-5, the mental health manual, has moved gambling disorder into a category of behavioral addictions alongside substance abuse disorders. The change reflects the growing recognition that gambling disorder shares many of the same features as substance-related disorders in terms of clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, physiology and treatment. While this is a positive step, more research is needed to develop specific interventions for this disorder. For example, longitudinal studies that measure changes in gambling behaviors over long periods of time would be valuable. However, such studies are extremely difficult to conduct.