Gambling is any activity where you stake something of value on an event based entirely or partly on chance, with the potential to win a prize. This could include lottery tickets, cards, casino games, video poker machines, slot machines, scratchcards, betting on horses, sports events or a number of other activities. Some people are addicted to gambling and can’t control their urges. They may lie to family members, therapists and others about how much they gamble or spend time hiding evidence of their gambling activity. They may even steal money to fund their gambling activity.
In addition, many pathological gamblers have other mental health problems, such as depression. Research shows that these mental health issues are associated with a higher risk of gambling addiction. This may be because gambling can be used as a way to distract yourself from unpleasant emotions or as a way to feel better about yourself when you’re depressed.
There are a number of different ways to treat a gambling problem, but the first step is admitting that you have a problem. This is a big step and can be very difficult, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or have strained or broken relationships because of your gambling habits. However, it’s the most important step if you want to overcome your addiction.
You can also try to strengthen your support network by spending more time with friends who don’t gamble. This can help you focus on other activities and make healthy choices in the future. You can also join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a similar model to Alcoholics Anonymous. This can provide support and guidance from former gamblers who have successfully overcome their gambling addiction.
If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, seek professional help from a therapist who specialises in treating this condition. They can work with you to understand your gambling habits, identify the root causes and teach you coping skills to manage your gambling behaviour. You can also attend inpatient or residential treatment programs that offer a safe and supportive environment to address your gambling addiction.
You can also seek family, career and credit counseling to work through any issues that have been caused by your gambling addiction. This can help you to regain control of your finances and build strong, healthy relationships in the future. There is a growing body of evidence that supports the link between gambling and depression, so it’s important to seek help if you’re experiencing symptoms of both conditions. If you’re struggling to get by, you can apply for debt relief through StepChange, a free and confidential service for those in financial difficulty. For further information on tackling your gambling habit, you can speak to a debt advisor on 0800 024 6000 or visit StepChange online.