Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. It is an activity that requires three elements: consideration, risk and a prize. The prize could be money or goods or services. The activity can be done in many ways, including betting on football matches or scratchcards and by playing casino games such as poker, roulette and slots. It can also involve speculating on business, insurance or stock market investments.
In the past, it was controversial to compare gambling with a substance addiction, but now researchers agree that in some cases gamblers can become addicted just as easily as people who use drugs or alcohol. A person with a gambling problem can experience negative effects on their health and well-being, relationships and work performance and could find themselves in serious debt or even homeless. Over half the population takes part in some form of gambling and it can be a fun pastime, but for those with a gambling problem the habit can take over their lives and cause a great deal of harm.
The first step to breaking the cycle of compulsive gambling is to recognise the problem. You may be able to recognise the warning signs, such as lying to family or friends about your gambling habits, hiding money or failing to keep appointments. It can be difficult to acknowledge that a gambling problem is present, especially when it comes to your relationships and finances, but getting help is the best way to tackle the issue.
Some of the most effective treatments for problem gambling include cognitive-behaviour therapy and support groups. These can help you identify and confront irrational beliefs that are causing you to gamble, such as the belief that a series of losses will be reversed or that a near miss (two out of three cherries on a slot machine) will be followed by a big win. They can also teach you how to manage your bankroll and set limits on how much time and money you will spend gambling.
Other effective treatments for pathological gambling include family and marriage therapy and credit, finance and career counseling. These can help you repair your relationships and lay the foundation for a new, less stressful life without gambling. They can also teach you how to budget your money and plan for the future, so that you don’t end up in a position where you have to turn to illegal means to fund your gambling habit.
Some people with a gambling addiction require more intensive treatment, such as inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These are aimed at those who can’t avoid gambling even with round-the-clock support, and they can be highly successful in helping people break the addiction. It is important to remember that relapses are common, but it’s vital not to give up and continue to seek help. Speak to one of our trained counsellors today, it’s free and confidential.