Dealing With Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a form of risk taking, usually involving money, in which a person wagers something of value on the outcome of an event that is not a certainty. The objective of gambling is to gain something of value, whether it be a prize or a share of a jackpot. It is often accompanied by a desire to escape from daily life and to find a source of excitement. People who gamble can become dependent on it, and this can have serious consequences for the individual and society.

There are many arguments in favour of limiting or banning gambling. The most common argument is that it leads to compulsive behaviour, which is costly for the individual and society. It is estimated that 1 to 5 percent of the population is considered problem gamblers, and they can run up huge debts, which often impact their families. These debts can lead to financial hardship, which has been linked to depression and even suicide. It can also have a negative effect on children, as they may see their parents struggling financially.

Another concern is that it can lead to a loss of social contact, with friends and family members being neglected as the problem gambler spends more time at casinos and online. It can also be a cause of stress and a lack of sleep, which can lead to health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure. It can also lead to substance abuse, with some problem gamblers having a secondary addiction to alcohol or illicit drugs.

There are a number of things individuals can do to help manage their gambling addiction and reduce the risk of it becoming a problem. These include:

Creating healthy coping skills and finding healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings. For example, instead of gambling to self-soothe or unwind after a difficult day, try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, trying a new hobby, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Setting limits on the amount of money that can be spent, such as leaving credit cards at home or only keeping a small sum of cash on you. Putting a stop to the temptation to gamble by avoiding places that offer free cocktails or by only gambling for entertainment, rather than to win money. Avoiding the gambler’s fallacy, which is the belief that you will soon make back any losses you have suffered if you keep playing – this is known as chasing your losses.

Having a strong support network is important for those with an addictive personality. If you are struggling to break your habit, speak to one of our counsellors for confidential support. They are available 24/7. It is also worth considering joining a peer support group for gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows the model of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also find information about other services in your area by visiting our Gambling Support Directory.