Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value, where instances of strategy are discounted. There are a wide range of ways that people gamble, including lottery tickets, scratchcards, casino games, video poker, slot machines, sports betting and even online casino games. The common thread that runs through all gambling is the desire to win a prize. For many people this is not a problem, but there are individuals who find it difficult to control their urges to gamble and who are at risk of developing a gambling disorder.
There are several different types of gambling disorders and the symptoms vary depending on the type of gambling behavior involved. Generally speaking, the more problematic a person’s gambling is the more serious their problem will be. Disorders are usually characterized by the presence of one or more symptoms from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):
While it is not possible to stop someone who is addicted to gambling, there are things that can be done to help them get back on track. Counseling is an important component in the treatment of gambling disorder as it helps people think about how their gambling affects their life and relationships, and what they can do to change their behaviors. In addition, counseling can help them develop a plan for moving forward and seek other ways to relieve boredom or manage unpleasant emotions.
The biggest step in treating a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem, and it can be very hard to do. Especially if it has cost you money or strained or broken your relationships with family and friends. But it is very important to realize that you have a problem and take action before it gets out of hand.
It is also helpful to understand what triggers a person’s impulse to gamble. Many people use gambling as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as loneliness or boredom, or as a way to socialize. But there are healthier and more productive ways to relieve these emotions, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or taking up a new hobby.
Lastly, it is important to set reasonable limits on how much you are willing to spend and to stick to those limits. You should also be aware that you are likely to lose more than you win, so be prepared for this. Do not chase your losses, as this can lead to the “gambler’s fallacy,” which is the belief that you are due for a big win and will recoup all of your previous losses. This is a very dangerous mindset that can be very difficult to break. If you are having trouble with gambling, please reach out to a counselor – we can match you with a qualified therapist in less than 48 hours. It is free, confidential, and available 24/7.