Gambling involves risking something of value, typically money, on an event whose outcome is uncertain. This activity is often associated with a high degree of excitement and may offer people an opportunity to experience a sense of achievement or reward. However, if individuals engage in gambling to the extent that it becomes a serious problem, it can have negative consequences for their mental health and their financial situation. It is important to be aware of the dangers of gambling and seek help if necessary.
There are many ways that gambling can affect a person’s mental health, including feelings of depression or anxiety, as well as feelings of guilt or shame. Gambling can also increase the risk of substance abuse and financial problems, which can exacerbate existing mental health issues. For example, some people use gambling as a way to relieve stress and tension by buying themselves things they don’t really need. In some cases, these purchases can lead to significant debt, which is often a catalyst for seeking help for gambling problems.
It is important to remember that gambling is not just a form of entertainment, it is also a dangerous and addictive activity. The impulsive nature of gambling can be especially difficult to control, and people with mental health conditions are at a greater risk of compulsive gambling. Individuals with a history of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder are particularly at risk of becoming addicted to gambling. In addition, some people who have experienced a financial crisis are more likely to turn to gambling to try and overcome their situation.
There are several ways to reduce the risk of harmful gambling, including identifying triggers and avoiding them as much as possible. For instance, if your route to and from work passes a casino or if you watch sports on TV that make you want to gamble, consider taking an alternate route or turning the channel. It is also helpful to retrain the brain by replacing unhealthy thinking patterns, such as the illusion of control and irrational beliefs, with healthier alternatives.
Developing a strong support network is also essential for battling an addiction. If you have a friend or family member who suspects you have a gambling problem, be open and honest with them. It is better to broach the subject in a friendly and supportive manner rather than in a judgmental or aggressive way. Alternatively, you can join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
When it comes to managing a gambling addiction, willpower and self-help tips aren’t always enough. Getting professional treatment is an effective strategy for breaking free from the habit. At Gateway Foundation, we offer cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy for people with a gambling disorder. These treatments can help people retrain their thoughts and behaviors to become more responsible, limiting their gambling activities. To learn more, contact our helpline today.