How to Overcome Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves placing a wager on the outcome of a random event, such as a football match, horse race, or scratchcard, with the hope of winning something of value. The prize can range from a small amount of money to a life-changing jackpot. While gambling can be enjoyable for most people, it is possible to become addicted to the game and experience negative consequences, such as financial problems or strained relationships. The first step in overcoming gambling addiction is to recognise that there is a problem and seek help. There are many effective treatments available, including self-help books, support groups, and inpatient and residential treatment programs.

The gambling industry has a strong economic impact on communities, particularly in areas where it is legal and heavily regulated. It provides employment opportunities ranging from dealers and wait staff to management, as well as significant tax revenue for governments. This has led to a close relationship between gambling establishments and government, with many localities and even entire countries hosting casinos, sports betting sites, state lotteries, or both.

Psychiatrists have been treating gambling addiction for decades. In fact, the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) included pathological gambling in its list of disorders, along with alcoholism and other substance abuse. This move was prompted by evidence that gambling is a real psychological problem, similar to the way that alcoholics are understood as having an illness.

Today, four in five Americans say that they have gambled at least once in their lives. Gambling is available in a wide variety of forms, from brick-and-mortar casinos to online gaming platforms. While most adults who gamble do so responsibly, it is estimated that 2.5 million US adults (1%) meet the criteria for a gambling disorder, and another 5-8 million (2-3%) have mild or moderate gambling problems.

There are many reasons why people develop harmful gambling behaviour. For some, it becomes a way to relieve unpleasant feelings such as boredom or loneliness, while others turn to gambling to cope with stress or to escape from the demands of everyday life. It may also be used as a way to socialise or to win money. However, there are healthier and more effective ways of dealing with these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques.

People with a gambling problem often hide their addiction, and lie about how much they are spending to family and friends. This can lead to a feeling of isolation, as well as conflict within the family and strain on work or school life. They may also feel the need to be secretive about their gambling and up their bets in an attempt to make back lost money. In addition, those who struggle with gambling addiction may develop a sense of compulsion, which is often difficult to control. The key to overcoming this is seeking professional help, which can be facilitated by using an online therapy service like BetterHelp, where you will be matched with a qualified therapist who can help with anxiety, depression, relationships, and more.