A lot of people gamble and for some of them it is just a way to have fun, but for others it can ruin their lives. It can damage their physical health, rob them of precious time with family and friends, affect their performance at work or school and even lead to bankruptcy and homelessness. It is estimated that over half the UK population takes part in some form of gambling, but problem gambling can cause severe damage to physical and mental wellbeing, strain relationships and can leave you in serious debt. The risk of developing a gambling disorder can be increased by family history, genetics and other factors such as past trauma or social inequality.
Gambling is not always easy to recognize as a problem and many people who struggle with it are not seeking help. This may be because it is difficult to admit you have a problem, or that you feel powerless to change your habits. Alternatively, it could be because you have family or social groups who support your gambling and these can make it harder to recognise that you are in trouble. Cultural beliefs, such as that gambling is a legitimate pastime, can also be a barrier to getting help.
Problem gambling can be treated in a variety of ways, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. These therapies are designed to help you improve self-awareness and understand how your unconscious thoughts influence your behaviour. They can also help you repair your relationship with your family and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
Other forms of treatment include avoiding triggers, such as gambling websites and casinos, practicing relaxation techniques, spending more time with non-gambling friends and finding new hobbies. Having a support system can be important and is particularly helpful for those with problem gambling disorder, as it allows you to discuss your problems openly and honestly. Some people find it helpful to talk to a trusted professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, who can offer practical advice and strategies.
While some people who suffer from gambling disorders can stop on their own, for most it is a long and difficult journey. It can be particularly hard to stay in recovery, especially if you have access to online gambling sites and betting shops, as they are available all day, every day. It can also be challenging to quit gambling when you have financial debts, responsibilities or relationships affected by your gambling habits.
If you’re struggling with problem gambling, the best thing you can do is get help as soon as possible. It is also important to remember that gambling should be seen as entertainment, not a way to become rich. It’s a good idea to only ever gamble with money that you can afford to lose and to stick to a set budget. You should also avoid chasing losses, as this can quickly take the enjoyment out of gambling and increase your chances of experiencing Bet Regret.