Gambling is a fun activity for some people, but it can cause financial, emotional and social problems if it’s not controlled. It happens when you stake something of value (like money or your reputation) upon an event with a chance of winning a prize. It’s often regulated by governments to keep it under control. People who gamble often get into debt and this can lead to depression and even thoughts of suicide. Gambling can also cause addiction and lead to gambling disorders.
In the UK, there are around 1.6% of the population who meet criteria for a pathological gambling disorder (PGD). It is usually diagnosed in adolescence or early adulthood and affects men more than women. The most common type of gambling is betting on sporting events or using the pokies.
There are many ways to get help for gambling issues. You can get support from your family and friends, or a mental health professional. There are a range of treatment options including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and group therapy. These treatments focus on changing your beliefs about gambling and how you feel when you gamble. They can also teach you new coping skills.
The first step is acknowledging that you have a problem. It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit this, especially if it has cost you a lot of money or caused strained relationships. But it’s important to remember that you can overcome gambling problems and rebuild your life.
It is a complex issue, and different methods may work better for you than others. It is important to seek help when you think that gambling is causing harm, and not wait until the problem escalates. Some people may try to minimise their gambling behaviour or lie about it to avoid the consequences, but this only makes matters worse. The best way to manage your gambling is to budget it as an expense and only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. If you’re struggling to cope with your gambling, it’s important to speak to a debt charity such as StepChange for free and confidential advice.
If you are struggling with gambling addiction, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Speak to a mental health professional for help and support, or visit a local gambling clinic for specialist services. They can also offer support and advice for families of those with gambling disorders. Inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs are also available for those with severe gambling disorders. These provide round-the-clock care and help with relapse prevention. Research has shown that there are a number of factors and conditions that contribute to the development and maintenance of pathological gambling behaviors. These include: