Gambling involves risking something of value (usually money) on an event with some degree of randomness or chance. This can include scratchcards, fruit machines and betting with friends. It can also involve betting on events like football accumulators or elections and games of skill, such as poker and card games.
Whether they’re playing online or in casinos, people with a gambling problem will often find it hard to stop. But there are things you can do to help. Therapy can teach you how to control your urges and solve the financial, work and relationship problems caused by your addiction. It can also help you deal with any underlying conditions, such as depression or anxiety, which may be contributing to your gambling disorder.
The biggest step is acknowledging you have a problem. This is tough, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or suffered strained relationships through your gambling. But there are support groups for gamblers – based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous – that can offer advice and encouragement.
There are also specialised therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help you learn to recognise and resist irrational thoughts or habits. For example, you might be taught how to challenge irrational beliefs that a recent loss is a sign that you are due for a win. You might also be helped to replace harmful gambling behaviors with healthy ones, such as exercising, going on a family outing or volunteering.