Gambling is an activity where people risk something of value (money or goods) in the hope of winning more than they have invested or lost. Gambling can take place on land, at sea or online and can include betting on horse races, football accumulators and other sporting events, games of chance such as poker, slot machines and two-up, casino games like blackjack, and even business or stock market speculation.
A problem with gambling can lead to debt, which in turn may affect other areas of your life such as work or relationships. It can also lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, so it is important to seek help if you have any concerns.
Some people may be more at risk of having a gambling problem than others. It can run in families, and it may be triggered by a financial crisis or other stressful event. It can start at any age, but it is more common in men and in adolescence.
Symptoms of a gambling disorder can range from mild to severe, but they can be managed with treatment. Treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy and support groups for gamblers, such as Gam-Anon. It is also important to address any underlying mood disorders that are contributing to the gambling disorder, such as depression, stress, substance abuse or anxiety.
You can help someone with a gambling problem by setting boundaries in managing money and limiting the amount of time they spend on gambling. You can also encourage them to get help, such as counselling or a self-help programme. If you think they are at risk of harming themselves or someone else, call 999 or visit A&E immediately.
Getting help for a gambling problem is a difficult decision, especially if you have suffered from it for a long period of time and it has damaged or destroyed your life. However, many people have successfully overcome it and have rebuilt their lives. The first step is to recognise that you have a problem and accept that it’s time to change your behaviour. Try talking about it with someone you trust or getting non-judgemental support from the Better Health Channel. It’s also important to take control of your money, and consider closing any accounts you have with online bookmakers or casinos, and keeping only a small amount of cash on you. Try to find new things to do, and fill your time with other activities that bring you joy. You could also try taking up a hobby or visiting friends. It’s also useful to learn coping skills, such as distraction and relapse management.