Gambling can be a great way to relieve unpleasant emotions and relieve boredom, but it also can be a dangerous addiction. It can ruin relationships, get people into serious debt, and lead to homelessness.
Gamble responsibly, so you don’t become addicted.
If you want to gamble, start by setting a budget for how much you can spend. Never leave the house with more money than you can afford to lose.
Avoid casinos and bookmakers with a reputation for shady business practices, such as charging inflated prices or allowing you to deposit and withdraw more than is allowed. Some gambling sites are even known for stealing money from customers.
Don’t gamble if you’re in the middle of a financial crisis, or if you’re tempted by a quick fix to get out of debt. This strategy may seem like the right thing to do, but it could make your problem worse and encourage you to gamble again.
Stopping gambling can be a difficult challenge, but it’s one that can be overcome with time and commitment. It’s important to surround yourself with others who can help you, avoid tempting environments and websites, give up control over your finances (at least at first), and find healthy activities to replace gambling in your life.
Treating gambling problems
If you are concerned that you or someone you know has a gambling problem, seek help right away. Getting treatment can prevent long-term damage and improve your quality of life.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, defines a gambling disorder as an unhealthy obsession with gambling that results in serious negative consequences. This condition can affect anyone, from any walk of life.
While most people who have a casual gambling problem quit when they lose money, those who suffer from compulsive gambling continue to gamble without a limit until their bank account is empty. They may not be able to resist their urges, and they might use illegal methods to win back their money, such as stealing or fraud.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients understand the irrational thoughts that trigger gambling behavior. For example, they might learn that they are overestimating the odds of winning a slot machine game. Then they can confront those irrational beliefs and change them to more realistic ones.
Rehab programs can also be effective in treating gambling addiction, particularly if you have tried to stop on your own and failed. They can help you identify underlying mood disorders that may be driving your gambling behaviors, and they can teach you ways to cope with these problems.
Counseling and support can also be helpful for family members of a problem gambler. This can be especially helpful if the loved one is also struggling with other issues, such as depression, stress, or substance abuse.
Postpone your gambling if it’s not an emergency, and try to distract yourself with other activities. If you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, for example, try to take a walk, exercise, or go out with friends who don’t gamble.