Dealing With Gambling Problems


Gambling is an activity in which you risk something of value, such as money or goods, on the outcome of a game involving chance. A gambler takes a risk in the hope of winning, but the odds of winning are usually against you and any gain is usually minuscule. Gambling can cause serious harm, including to your physical and mental health, family relationships, work performance and financial stability. It can also lead to addiction, legal problems, debt and homelessness. The good news is that there are a number of services that can offer support, assistance and counselling for people who have a problem with gambling. There are also a number of organisations that provide help and advice for families of people with a gambling disorder.

It’s not always easy to recognise if your gambling is getting out of hand. Many people find it difficult to admit they have a problem, even to their family and friends. Others will try to conceal their behaviour by hiding money or lying about how much time they spend gambling. Some will also avoid social activities and withdraw from their family and friends.

There are many different reasons why people gamble, and it is not always clear how much skill is involved in the activity. Some people gamble for a sense of adventure, to experience the excitement of winning, or for the feeling of euphoria that gambling can trigger in some people. Other people gamble to relieve boredom or to escape from unpleasant emotions, such as anxiety or depression. In some cases, underlying mood disorders can trigger or make gambling worse, and it is important to seek treatment for these conditions.

Over the years, there have been a variety of ideas about what causes pathological gambling. These include behavioral-environmental reasons, a general theory of addictions, and a reward deficiency syndrome. There is little evidence supporting any of these models, but they have influenced intervention and research strategies, public opinion and policy decisions, and the self-perceptions of pathological gamblers themselves.

Responsible gambling is an ongoing process that involves the shared responsibility of government, casino operators, regulators, treatment providers, community groups and individual gamblers. It aims to minimize the risks for gamblers and maximize the benefits of gambling.

There are several ways to deal with a loved one’s gambling problem, including educating yourself about the issues surrounding gambling, setting boundaries and managing finances, reaching out to a support group for family members of gamblers such as Gam-Anon, and practicing relaxation techniques. It is also a good idea to strengthen your own support network by spending time with friends who do not gamble, participating in non-gambling hobbies or sports teams, or volunteering for a worthy cause. In addition, a national helpline and various support groups for gamblers are available. It is also important to remember that a loved one with a gambling disorder is not to be blamed for their behaviour, and it can be helpful to seek therapy or counselling for the whole family.