Gambling is an activity where you place a bet on something of value, such as a horse race, sports event or scratchcard. It can also be a form of entertainment, like going to the movies or buying concert tickets. However, if you have a gambling problem, you may be spending more than you can afford to lose and this can cause you financial problems. Eventually, you can end up in debt and resorted to payday loans or borrowing money from friends and family.
Gambling can affect your mental health as well. It stimulates the reward center of your brain and triggers a ‘feel good’ hormone in the body, called dopamine. It’s important to seek help for any mood disorders that you may have – depression, anxiety or stress – that can trigger or be made worse by compulsive gambling.
Vulnerable groups of people who develop a gambling disorder include those with low incomes, those who start at a young age and men. A person’s family history and temperament can also make them more likely to develop a gambling disorder.
There are a range of treatment options for a gambling disorder. They include psychodynamic therapy and group therapy, which can help people with a gambling disorder become more aware of their unconscious processes and how these influence their behavior. There is also family therapy, which can help people with a gambler’s disorder keep their relationships strong while working through the disorder together.
In addition, cognitive behavioural therapy can teach you a variety of skills to help you stop gambling. This can include learning how to budget, set time and money limits for yourself when gambling and not chasing your losses. It’s also a good idea to find other activities that will bring you pleasure and satisfaction, such as socialising with friends who don’t gamble or taking up a new hobby.
In severe cases, people with gambling disorder can experience suicidal thoughts or feelings. If this happens, it’s vital to seek professional help immediately, as suicide is rarely a solution and can often be prevented with early intervention and treatment. Speak to your GP or visit NHS services for support. There are also a number of peer support groups for people with gambling disorder, including Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on a similar model to Alcoholics Anonymous.