How to Stop Gambling Problems

Gambling is a fun and exciting activity that involves placing bets on a variety of events, sports, lotteries or other games. The excitement and euphoria that come from gambling can be very addictive and lead to serious harm. While the majority of people who gamble do so responsibly and without any harm, a small percentage of people develop a problem with gambling. This problem can affect their relationships, work performance, physical and mental health and their social life. It can also cause damage to family, friends, workplaces and communities.

The risk of becoming addicted to gambling can be reduced by understanding how it works. Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, betting on a football game or playing the pokies, gambling is designed to keep people gambling by offering them a chance to win money and by creating false expectations about their chances of winning. It’s important to recognise that when someone is gambling, they are taking a risk and the likelihood of losing is high.

For many people, gambling provides a sense of adventure and a break from their daily routine. However, for a minority of people, it can quickly become an addiction that has serious consequences for them and their loved ones. It can be difficult to stop gambling, but help is available.

While the term ‘problem gambling’ is often used to refer to a lack of financial control, it can include other symptoms that impact the person’s daily functioning. These may include: †daydreaming about or thinking about gambling activities a lot of the time; †avoiding spending time with family and friends in favour of gambling; †lying to family members, friends or therapists about how much they have gambled; †betting more money than they can afford to lose (chasing); †using credit, loans or other sources of debt to fund gambling activity; †stealing money or possessions to gamble (couch surfing); and †causing significant distress or anxiety for others through their gambling behaviour (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

There is no single solution for treating gambling problems, but some options include counseling, seeking support from a sponsor, trying to find another hobby or activity, and finding ways to distract yourself when you are tempted to gamble. Research has shown that exercise, sleep and a healthy diet can also help. Some people who struggle with gambling disorder also find success in self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous or Gam-Anon.

While it’s not possible to prevent people from gambling, it is possible to make the experience more enjoyable and safer for everyone. This includes ensuring that gambling is treated as an expense, rather than seen as a way to make money, and that it’s not mixed with alcohol or other substances. It’s also a good idea to check local laws and regulations before gambling, as different countries have different rules about who can play where and when.