Gambling is an activity in which people risk money or valuables for a chance to win something of value. It can be done through betting on sports events, buying lottery tickets or using the pokies. It can also involve speculating on the outcome of business, insurance or stock market events. While gambling is often considered a recreational activity, it can have serious consequences for some people. It can affect their health, their relationships and their performance at work or study. It can also lead to debt and even homelessness. It can be hard for people to admit that they have a problem, but our counselling service is free and confidential.
It is estimated that around 0.4-1.6% of Americans meet the criteria for a diagnosis of pathological gambling (PG). It is more common in men than in women and tends to start during adolescence or young adulthood, although it can develop at any age. PG is also more likely to occur in people who have a family history of the disorder.
There are a number of things you can do to help yourself break the gambling habit. It is important to recognise when it is affecting your life and to seek support if you feel that this is the case. Counselling can help you to understand why you gamble and how it affects your life. It can also teach you coping strategies to deal with the urge to gamble and help you consider your options. There are no medications to treat gambling disorders, but some drugs can be used to manage co-occurring conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Many people use gambling to self-soothe unpleasant feelings, unwind or socialize. There are healthier and more effective ways to do this, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or taking up new hobbies. You could also try to find a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a similar format to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Scientists are learning more about the brain circuits that respond to gambling and other addictive behaviors. For example, neuroscientists have found that when a person is gambling, their brains release dopamine and other chemicals that act in the same way as certain drugs.
The best way to break the habit of gambling is to stop completely, but this can be a difficult step for some people. To help you quit, it is important to set limits for how much and how long you will gamble. It is also important to recognise that you will lose some bets, and not to try and make back the money you have lost. It is also important not to chase your losses, as this will usually lead to more gambling and bigger losses. The key to recovery is to commit to a change in your behaviour and be patient. It may take some time to overcome the addiction, but you will get there!