Gambling Addiction


Gambling is the act of risking something of value (money, property or personal safety) on an outcome that depends on chance. It includes all games of chance, whether at a casino, on the internet or in other places. People gamble for all sorts of reasons – some may be motivated by greed, others are seeking excitement or other thrills. But gambling also meets some basic human needs, like a sense of belonging. Many casinos are designed around this, encouraging you to feel special and to come back.

Gambling can be a powerful addiction, and even when it’s legal, it’s difficult to stop. Some people may try to hide their addiction by hiding money or by lying about how much time they spend gambling. Other people may find themselves in debt and struggling to cope with their addiction. This can lead to a variety of problems, including anxiety and depression.

Understanding gambling addiction is critical to getting help. There are a number of different treatments available, but some of the most effective are cognitive-behavioral therapy and peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people change the irrational beliefs that cause them to gamble. For example, it’s common for people to believe that the chances of winning increase after a few losses or that a close call (like two out of three cherries on a slot machine) means that they will win next time. However, these beliefs are not based on reality and the chances of winning or losing remain the same every single time.

Peer support can help by offering a safe place to talk about the problems that cause someone to gamble and providing an alternative outlet for negative emotions. It can also provide a way to meet new people, and can encourage a more active lifestyle that is less likely to involve gambling. There are a number of different peer support groups, including those modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, that offer help to people struggling with gambling addiction. These groups often focus on helping members overcome irrational beliefs and develop healthy coping skills.

In the United States, gambling is legal in most jurisdictions, and four out of five Americans say they have gambled. In the past, we viewed people who had bad experiences with gambling as having character flaws, but our understanding of gambling addiction has undergone profound changes in recent years. This change has been reflected in, or stimulated by, the changing clinical definition of pathological gambling in various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (called DSM).

The first step to overcoming gambling addiction is recognising that you have a problem. This may be difficult, but it’s important to understand that the issue isn’t your fault or that of your loved one. Gambling is a dangerous activity that can quickly become out of control, and it’s crucial to seek help as soon as possible to avoid more serious consequences. Then, you can learn to cope with unpleasant feelings and unwind in healthier ways.