Help For Gambling Disorders

Gambling is an activity where you risk something of value (money, property or something else) on a random event in the hope of winning a prize. It can be as simple as betting on a football game with friends, or as complex as sophisticated casino gambling. Whether it’s legal or not, gambling can damage your health and wellbeing, hurt your relationships, affect your work performance, lead to serious debt and even result in homelessness. It’s a major cause of suicide, too.

People gamble for many reasons, including the excitement of winning money, socialising or escaping worries and stress. For some, however, it can become an unhealthy obsession. If you’re worried that your gambling is causing harm, it can help to take a step back and assess your situation. There are plenty of ways to get help if you think you have a problem, from support services to professional treatment and advice.

Gambling can be fun, but it’s important to stay in control and only gamble responsibly. Keep track of how much you’re spending and try to avoid chasing losses or getting into debt. It’s also a good idea to set aside a budget for gambling so you don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.

It’s also worth remembering that gambling is not a reliable way to make money, and the chances of winning are very low. Some people fall into the ‘mystery box’ trap – where they overestimate how likely an outcome is, because their mind can produce immediate examples of times when it did happen in the past. This could be stories on the news of lottery winners, or a previous lucky streak at a casino.

There are no drugs that can treat gambling disorder, but there are several types of psychotherapy which may help. This is a type of therapy that involves talking to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker. It’s often used in conjunction with other therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Speak up sooner rather than later if you’re concerned about a loved one’s gambling. Encourage them to call a helpline, talk to a healthcare professional or join a gambling support group like Gamblers Anonymous, and be careful not to judge them for their choices. Practice empathy, and listen thoughtfully to them – the more they feel supported, the more likely they are to seek treatment. If they’re gambling on credit cards or hiding their cards, suggest they get someone else in charge of their finances, close online betting accounts and only carry a small amount of cash with them. It’s also a good idea not to let them borrow money to fund their gambling, and to only tip casino staff with chips. Cash can be stolen by crooks or lost by mistake.