Gambling is an activity where people risk money or anything else of value in an attempt to predict the outcome of a game of chance. It is a popular pastime and can be done in many forms, including playing card games, fruit machines, lotteries, bingo and betting on sports events. Problem gambling can cause serious harm to personal relationships, health and work, leaving people with debt problems that lead to homelessness or even suicide.
A person can develop an addiction to gambling, and this can be difficult to recognise, especially for family members. A person with a gambling disorder may hide their addiction or lie to their friends and colleagues about how much they are spending on gambling. This can also have a negative impact on their work or study performance and can damage their self-esteem.
There are many different treatments for gambling disorders, depending on the individual. These can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, group therapy and family therapy. CBT is a type of therapy that helps people change their thinking patterns so they can manage their gambling habits and avoid harmful behaviours. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the unconscious processes that can influence an individual’s behaviour, while group therapy involves talking with other people who have similar issues in a safe environment under supervision from a trained mental health professional.
It is important to talk about gambling problems with someone who won’t judge you, such as a trusted friend or a counsellor. This can help to ease the stress that can make a person continue to gamble. It is also helpful to reduce financial risks and avoid high-risk situations such as using credit cards, taking out loans or carrying large amounts of cash with you. It is also a good idea to avoid gambling venues and use other activities for socialising instead.
People who have depression, anxiety or other mental health problems are more likely to have a gambling problem. They may gamble to try to distract themselves from their feelings or to feel better about themselves. Problem gambling can also have a profound effect on relationships and lead to arguments, debt problems and even bankruptcy. It can also cause feelings of shame and isolation, and there is a strong link between problem gambling and suicide.
It’s important to set boundaries in managing money when dealing with a loved one who has a gambling addiction. If they have a lot of debt, you might want to consider speaking with StepChange for free and confidential debt advice. It’s also helpful to learn healthier ways of relieving unpleasant emotions or dealing with boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques. You might also find it useful to seek support from other families who have dealt with this issue.