How to Stop Gambling

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance with the hope of winning something else of value. It may also refer to games of skill, such as games of marbles or collectible card games (like Magic: The Gathering). It is an important source of income for many governments and is associated with crime, social disruption, economic downturns, and moments of grandeur for some people, while causing financial ruin, family collapse, and despair for others.

A person may engage in gambling for a number of reasons, including the desire to escape from reality, to relieve boredom or loneliness, to enhance self-esteem and to experience positive feelings, such as excitement and pride. In some cases, the activities of gambling can become addictive.

Problem gambling is a mental health disorder and may result in significant distress, financial problems, work-related difficulties, and/or legal issues. It is estimated that 2.5 million adults in the United States have a serious gambling problem and an additional 5-8 million Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for mild to moderate problem gambling.

It is common for individuals with a gambling problem to have other disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. They may also be prone to alcohol and drug abuse. A person who is addicted to gambling can often be dishonest, and they might hide their involvement from friends and family members. They can also be impulsive and reckless. In some instances, a person who gambles to excess can commit illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to fund their habit. They may also jeopardize or lose a relationship, job or educational or career opportunity because of their gambling behavior.

A variety of strategies are available to help a person quit gambling. Some of these include:

Strengthen your support network. Talk to friends and family about the issue and seek their help in supporting you to overcome your addiction. Join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step recovery program based on Alcoholics Anonymous is designed to provide you with guidance and support from other members who have successfully stopped gambling.

Consider getting professional help for yourself and/or your loved one. There are treatment and rehab programs that offer individualized care and therapy, and some also provide education about gambling addiction, finances and other related topics.

If your loved one has a gambling problem, it is important to recognize that they are not trying to take advantage of you or to be selfish. They likely don’t realize that their actions are a problem. They are often driven by a strong desire to win and feel powerless against their urges. They may also be relying on the addiction for emotional and psychological support. They are often unable to function without their gambling activity and will frequently ask for “just this one more time.” This is why it is important for you to reach out for help.