Dealing With Gambling Addiction

Gambling is any activity where something of value, such as money or possessions, is risked on an event that is at least partly determined by chance. The gambler hopes to win more than they lose. While most people think of casino games and slot machines when they hear the word gambling, the term also covers many other activities such as playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch tickets, and betting on office pools.

While some people may enjoy gambling, for others it can have serious and negative consequences. It can affect health and relationships, interfere with work or study, and cause debt. It can even lead to homelessness and suicide. People with mental health problems such as depression or anxiety are at higher risk of problem gambling.

Problem gambling affects people of all ages and backgrounds, but it is more common in men than in women. Younger people, especially teenagers, may be more likely to develop a gambling problem. They may be attracted to video and mobile games that ask for micro-transactions and payments, as well as social media platforms that encourage them to ‘gamble’ by making bets. They can also be attracted by the excitement and rush that comes from a big win, or the near-misses that encourage them to keep gambling in the hope of winning again.

There are a number of ways to deal with gambling addiction, and the first step is to seek professional help. In the UK, there are a range of services including self-help groups, telephone counselling and face-to-face therapy. Some of these are free and some are funded by the government. The Royal College of Psychiatrists website has details of these services.

Gambling addiction is often difficult to recognize and treat because it can be hidden behind other problems. It can be exacerbated by alcohol and other drugs, or it can be triggered by mood disorders such as depression, anxiety or stress. It can also be influenced by the culture you live in and by the social expectations of your community.

A common way for people to cope with gambling addiction is to strengthen their support networks and make changes to their lifestyles. For example, they may need to get rid of credit cards, put someone else in charge of their finances, close online betting accounts or limit their visits to casinos and other gambling venues. They can also try to improve their skills or learn new ones to distract themselves from the urge to gamble. Alternatively, they can join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step recovery program similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous. The group helps members recover from their gambling addiction and rebuild healthy lives. They can also find a sponsor, a former gambler who has experienced overcoming their addiction and can offer advice and encouragement. They can also seek treatment for underlying mood disorders. This article has been programmatically compiled from various online sources. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Merriam-Webster or its editors.