Gambling is a type of risk-taking where people put something of value on the outcome of an event that involves chance. This can include a game of cards, a scratchcard or a video poker machine, betting on football matches or horse races, or even putting money into a lottery or a raffle. People often gamble for enjoyment but sometimes it can become a serious problem. It can affect a person’s health and relationships, cause financial problems and interfere with work or study. In extreme cases, it can lead to homelessness and suicide.
People can get help for gambling problems, including through counselling. This is usually done with a trained mental health professional. Counselling can help a person understand how they think about gambling and why they may be addicted to it. It can also give them strategies to stop gambling. Some people with a gambling disorder have underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can make the problem worse.
While there are no medications for gambling addiction, some medicines can help treat mood disorders. In addition to counselling, there are self-help groups for people with gambling disorders. Some research has shown that physical exercise can help people stop gambling, as can attending a support group for family members of problem gamblers, such as Gam-Anon.
The best thing to do is only gamble with disposable income, and not with money that needs to be saved or spent on bills. Also, never use credit to gamble. Ensure that gambling is balanced with other activities, such as socialising with friends and family or taking part in sports or art. Ensure that you only gamble for the amount of time that you can afford to lose, and leave when you reach this limit, regardless of whether you are winning or losing. Never chase your losses – the more you try to win back the money that you have lost, the greater your losses will be.
The biggest step in dealing with a gambling problem is admitting that there is one. This can be difficult, especially if you have ruined family or work relationships through gambling and are in severe debt. However, many people who have been through this struggle have successfully broken their gambling habit and rebuilt their lives. The first step is seeking support, which can be done through a friend, family member or a local gambling helpline or group such as Gamblers Anonymous. It can also be helpful to seek professional advice from a counsellor or psychologist.