Dealing With Gambling Problems


People gamble for many reasons: to win money, socialise or escape from stress and worries. However, gambling can become harmful when it leads to debt or other behavioural problems. If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s gambling habits, it’s important to seek help. There are support groups, treatment options and self-help tips to help you deal with a gambling problem. In addition, underlying mental health conditions can contribute to or trigger gambling problems. Those with mood disorders are particularly at risk of compulsive gambling. Addressing these issues can help stop gambling from causing harm.

The term ‘gambling’ refers to betting something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on an uncertain event whose outcome may be determined by chance or accident. It includes any wager made with money or something that has monetary value, such as merchandise, services or tickets. It also encompasses games that involve collecting or trading game pieces, such as marbles, pogs and Magic: The Gathering cards.

Gambling is a popular pastime for millions of people, and has been part of human culture throughout history. It is a major source of revenue for some governments and economies, especially in Asia and the Americas. The total amount of money legally wagered is estimated to be around $10 trillion per year.

People who gamble for fun often do so to enjoy the adrenaline rush, socialise with friends and escape from worries or stress. But it’s important to know your limits and avoid gambling when you’re under pressure or feeling down. The best way to minimise your gambling risks is to only gamble with money you can afford to lose and keep track of how much time and money you’re spending.

It’s also important to make sure you’re not borrowing money to gamble, which can cause serious financial and personal problems. You can prevent this by putting yourself in charge of your finances, putting someone else in charge of managing them or cutting up credit cards. It’s also a good idea to get help with any other behavioural issues, such as depression or substance misuse, that are contributing to the problem.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a useful way to address a gambling problem. It can help you learn to think differently about betting and how it makes you feel, and change unhealthy emotions and behaviours. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you change beliefs about gambling that lead to harmful behaviours, such as believing you are more likely to win than you actually are or that certain rituals will bring you luck.

Pathological gambling is a disorder, and is treated as such by the Psychiatric Association. The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has moved it from the impulse control disorder category to that of addictions, along with other conditions like kleptomania and trichotillomania. This move is intended to boost the credibility of gambling disorders as a psychiatric disorder and encourage awareness and screening. It also reflects the fact that pathological gambling has high rates of co-occurrence with mood and substance abuse disorders.