Gambling is a form of entertainment or recreational activity where money is exchanged for the chance to win a prize. It can involve the use of dice, cards, roulette wheels, bingo, horse races or electronic machines like video poker and slot machines. Whether you bet on a sports event, a lottery number or the outcome of a movie, there is always a risk of losing more than you gain. For those who struggle with gambling addiction, it can have devastating effects on their health and financial stability. It can even cause personal and family tension and break down relationships. The first step to recovery is recognising that you have a problem, which can be difficult to admit, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or strained your relationship with other people as a result of your gambling behaviour.
The brain is programmed to seek rewards. When you spend time with loved ones or eat a good meal, your body releases dopamine that gives you pleasure. When you gamble, you receive a similar reward because it stimulates the brain’s reward centre. However, gambling can often lead to big losses and create a vicious cycle of losses. In order to overcome a gambling addiction, it is important to understand how gambling affects your brain and learn to stop it from taking over your life.
Symptoms of gambling addiction include a constant need to bet, a lack of control over betting behaviour and an inability to stop gambling, despite losing large amounts of money. You may also experience negative emotions, such as guilt, anxiety and depression, and be unable to concentrate on your work or other activities. Gambling is also linked to other mental health problems, including bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To curb the harmful effects of gambling, it’s a good idea to set limits for yourself before you start gambling. This could mean setting a limit on how much you want to spend and a time frame for when you’ll stop gambling. It’s also a good idea to only gamble with disposable income, rather than money you need to pay for your rent or bills.
It’s also important to avoid gambling when you’re feeling depressed, stressed or bored. Instead, find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions, such as exercising, socialising with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques. You should also try to avoid chasing your losses, as this will only lead to bigger and bigger losses.
For those who have a loved one with a gambling problem, it’s crucial to set boundaries about money management. If you’re worried that your loved one is at risk of becoming an addict, speak to a professional therapist. Our therapists are fully qualified and vetted, and you can get matched with one in as little as 48 hours. It’s free and confidential. To get started, simply click on the button below to register with us. We’ll match you with a therapist who specialises in your condition, and you can begin the journey to recovery.