How to Overcome Gambling Problems

Gambling is the staking of something of value on an uncertain event whose outcome is determined mostly by chance, for the prospect of winning additional money or material goods. The term “gambling” generally refers to activities like lotteries, casino games and sports wagering. However, it may also include scratch-off tickets and other lottery-like games of chance as well as online and offline games of chance such as video poker and slots.

While some gambling is legal and not problematic, problems occur when people engage in harmful and addictive behaviors that affect their lives. These include:

Symptoms of gambling addiction can be difficult to recognise and address. Many gamblers deny that they have a problem and attempt to hide their addiction. They may lie to family members, therapists and others about their gambling activity. Some gamblers commit illegal acts, such as forgery or theft, to fund their gambling habits. Many gamblers have jeopardised important relationships, jobs or educational opportunities as a result of their habit. Others have become so dependent on gambling that they are unable to live without it, and have lost control of their finances.

It is difficult to get help for a gambling problem because there is so much stigma attached to the disorder and there are few effective treatment options available. Often, the underlying cause of the problem is complex and the various therapeutic approaches that have been developed offer only varying degrees of success. This is largely because they are based on different conceptualizations of pathological gambling.

Research has shown that a person’s environment and genetic predisposition can influence their vulnerability to developing a gambling problem. People who grow up in families with a history of gambling are more likely to develop a problem than those who do not. There is also a greater risk of gambling disorder among those who are surrounded by environments where it is socially acceptable, such as in places like casinos and racetracks. In addition, there is a higher incidence of gambling problems in those who have access to the internet and other sources of information about gambling.

The first step in overcoming a gambling problem is acknowledging that there is one. It takes tremendous strength and courage to admit that you have a problem, especially when it has cost you a great deal of money and strained or broken your relationships. You can receive support and therapy for your problem gambling by talking with a therapist who specializes in addictions. There are a variety of therapists who provide online, telephone and face-to-face support for those with gambling addictions. These professionals can also help you with other related issues, such as family therapy and marriage, career and credit counseling. They can teach you coping skills and strategies to help you overcome your problems. Having these tools will make it easier to maintain your new healthy lifestyle and avoid returning to a life of problem gambling.