Dealing With Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves betting money on a game of chance, such as a football match or a scratchcard. It’s an activity that has many social, emotional and financial consequences for people who struggle with it. While the majority of people can stop gambling after a few rounds, some become addicted to the activity. Gambling addiction can be difficult to overcome, but there are things that people can do to help themselves, including talking to a trusted friend or family member, reducing financial risk factors such as using credit cards and carrying large amounts of cash and finding alternative ways of relaxing and socialising.

Research has shown that pathological gambling can alter the brain’s reward system in the same way as alcohol or drugs. This may explain why some people develop problems with gambling. The behaviours associated with gambling are often driven by an attempt to relieve stress, and the addictive nature of gambling can lead to a number of problems, including financial difficulties and relationship problems. In 2013, pathological gambling was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as an addiction, similar to substance abuse disorders.

Several reasons why people gamble include being bored, feeling depressed or angry, wanting to escape reality, feeling lonely or having unresolved feelings about other events in their life. Some people are also influenced by media messages that portray gambling as fun, glamorous and exciting. In addition, gambling can be a way to socialise with friends and colleagues, which can provide a sense of fulfilment.

Many people who have a problem with gambling have learned to cope with negative emotions in other ways, such as drinking or taking drugs. In some cases, these other methods can be more dangerous or harmful than gambling. People who are struggling with a gambling problem can learn to replace these other behaviours with healthy, more productive activities such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, volunteering, learning relaxation techniques and participating in hobbies that don’t involve gambling.

When talking to a loved one about their gambling, it’s important to be calm and empathetic. This will help prevent them from becoming defensive or shutting down the conversation. In addition, mentioning your concern in an emotionally neutral tone can help them understand that you are not trying to criticise them.

If your loved one gets upset or refuses to talk about their gambling, it’s a good idea to walk away and try again at a later time. In addition, it’s important to be aware that recovery from gambling addiction can take time and may require therapy.

Those who have a problem with gambling can receive treatment at clinics and private centres, as well as through self-help programmes such as Gamblers Anonymous. In addition, a therapist can offer advice and support around developing healthier coping strategies. They can also recommend stress-reduction activities that can help people avoid gambling as a way to alleviate stress. These can include meditation, yoga and a range of physical exercise, which all have been found to reduce anxiety levels.