Gambling is a risky activity that involves placing a wager with something of value, such as money or goods. It can be done at brick-and-mortar casinos, online, or in other ways. A person can gamble on games of chance or skill, such as cards, dice, horse and greyhound races, football accumulators, lotteries, scratch-off tickets, bingo, and other events and activities.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a serious mental health disorder characterized by repeated and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. It is more common in men than women and often develops during adolescence or young adulthood. Those with PG are often socially isolated and experience depression. Those with PG also have a higher rate of substance use disorders, including alcohol and cannabis.
The first step in overcoming a gambling problem is admitting that you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost large sums of money or strained relationships as a result of your habit. However, there are many people who have successfully broken the cycle of impulsive gambling and rebuilt their lives. The first thing to do is get support from family and friends, and consider joining a peer-support group. Alternatively, a therapist can help you deal with the emotional fallout of breaking the habit, as well as provide therapy for any underlying issues that may be contributing to it.
A therapist can also teach you the skills needed to manage your finances and limit your spending. This can include reducing your credit card use, setting up automatic payments from your bank account to your gambling expenses, closing online betting accounts and keeping only a small amount of cash on you. Other strategies include finding alternative recreational and leisure activities to fill the void that gambling has left, such as exercising, spending time with friends, or taking up a new hobby.
Another strategy for controlling your gambling is to realise that winning is unlikely and accept that you will lose some of the time. This is easier to do if you are aware that most casinos and online gambling sites employ random number generators, which ensure that every spin of the wheel or hand dealt is completely independent of any previous outcomes. It’s also important to remember that even the best players in the world have a losing streak.
Finally, it’s vital to stay focused on your goal to reduce or quit gambling. It can be easy to get distracted and return to the habit, so make sure you have other activities planned for when you feel bored or tempted. Getting involved with a recreational or professional support group can help, as can a commitment to family therapy and career or financial counselling. This will allow you to tackle the underlying issues that contributed to your gambling addiction and lay the foundations for a new life without it.