Gambling is the act of placing a value on an event that is based solely on chance, whether this is putting money on a football team to win a match, or betting on a scratchcard. It involves taking a risk and attempting to predict the outcome of an event – this can be done either online or in a brick-and-mortar casino. The prize can range from a small amount of money to a life-changing jackpot. People gamble for many reasons, such as to get an adrenaline rush or socialise with friends. However, some people become addicted and the problem can have a serious impact on their lives. They may lose a lot of money or even strain and break relationships. In some cases, this leads to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
It is not easy to know when gambling becomes a problem, and some people will try and hide their gambling activity from loved ones. This can lead to them hiding evidence of their behaviour, or relying on others to fund their gambling activities or replace the money they have lost. People can also start to hide their finances from others, lie about their spending habits and begin to avoid socialising with friends. It is important to remember that there are ways to seek help and treatment for a gambling problem, and it is vital to never gamble with more than you can afford to lose.
Psychiatrists have begun using new treatments to combat addiction to gambling, and there is increasing support for the development of peer-led recovery programmes based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Cognitive-behaviour therapy has been shown to be effective in tackling gambling addiction, helping patients to face up to their irrational beliefs and to challenge their negative thinking. This can include learning to challenge the “hot hands” belief – the false assumption that a series of wins is a sign of an imminent win.
The most important step in overcoming gambling addiction is recognising that you have a problem. This can be a difficult step to take, especially if you have lost a large amount of money and strained or broken relationships as a result of your gambling. It can also be a struggle to find a way to break the cycle of gambling, but there are plenty of resources available to help you, including support groups and self-help tips.
The biggest hurdle is deciding to make changes to your lifestyle, but this can be done by seeking professional help. The world’s largest therapist service can match you with a therapist within 48 hours, who will be able to discuss your gambling habits with you and offer advice and support.