Gambling involves putting something of value at risk on the outcome of a random event, such as a lottery ticket, sporting event or card game. It can be done in person or online and can involve betting on events with a known outcome, such as football accumulators. It can also involve speculating on business, insurance or stock markets. Gambling is also popular among people who like to socialise and can be a way to relieve boredom. But it can be dangerous if you use it as a way to get out of difficult thoughts, feelings or situations. If you find yourself gambling regularly to cope with these, it might be time to look at ways of finding healthy and more effective coping mechanisms.
Research shows that if you have a gambling problem, it is important to seek treatment. Several types of therapy are available, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT can help you examine and change the beliefs you have about gambling. These might include that you are more likely to win if you gamble more, or that certain rituals will bring you luck. It can also help you manage your money and learn to be more choosy about the type of gambling that you do.
You can also try to limit your gambling by only using disposable income for entertainment purposes, and not money that needs to be saved to pay bills or rent. Also, you can try to reduce the amount of time that you spend gambling by setting a specific time limit for yourself. This will keep you from losing track of how much time you’re spending on gambling and may even prevent you from over-spending.
Another way to try to avoid gambling is by strengthening your support network. Reach out to friends who don’t gamble, and try activities that you enjoy without gambling such as taking a class or volunteering for a cause that is meaningful to you. It can be helpful to talk about how you feel about your gambling with others, so it’s worth contacting a GP or mental health service for non-judgemental support.
It can be very challenging to cope with a loved one’s gambling addiction, and it’s important not to blame yourself or think that you are alone in dealing with this. Talking about it with other people can be helpful and reassuring, and there are many organisations that offer non-judgemental support, such as GamCare.
Those who are unable to stop gambling and need more intensive help can access inpatient or residential services to address their problem. These programmes usually have round-the-clock support and focus on addressing the underlying issues that contribute to gambling disorder, such as anxiety, depression or family problems. Some of these services are specifically aimed at young people. However, the vast majority of people with gambling disorders do not receive any form of treatment or intervention. This is largely due to the fact that they do not recognise the signs of gambling disorder or are not aware of what help is available.