Dealing With Gambling Addiction


Whether buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on the horses or using the pokies, gambling involves risking something of value (typically money) in exchange for the chance to win a prize. Gambling can cause harm to your health and well-being, so it’s important to understand how gambling works and what to do if you have a problem with it.

It’s a big step to recognise that you have a problem with gambling, especially if it has caused you to lose money and strained or broken relationships. But don’t give up hope – many people have been through the same experience and have rebuilt their lives.

The first step to dealing with a loved one’s gambling addiction is setting boundaries about how much they are allowed to gamble. This will help to prevent them from spending their hard-earned income on games that they are unable to afford. If you are struggling to set these boundaries, seek professional help as soon as possible.

Gambling is often used for coping reasons, such as to forget worries or to feel more confident. However, it can also be addictive for people who are struggling to cope with depression or other mood disorders. This is because it can make them more prone to seeking quick rewards, and they may not be able to control their impulses or weigh up the risks.

Research into the onset, development and maintenance of pathological gambling has been conducted by behavioral scientists. Using longitudinal data, they have been able to see the emergence of a person’s gambling patterns. This allows them to identify a range of factors that can affect the chances of developing a gambling disorder.

These include genetic predispositions, such as an underactive brain reward system and a tendency to seek thrill-seeking behaviours. A person’s culture and environment can also have an impact on how they view gambling and how easy it is to recognise a gambling problem.

The research also shows that some people are more likely to develop a gambling disorder than others. This is because it can run in families, and factors such as trauma or social inequality can be risk factors. It is also known that a person’s age at the onset of a gambling disorder can influence their chances of overcoming it. Males are more likely to develop a gambling disorder in their adolescence or early adulthood, while females tend to start earlier in life.

The key to overcoming a gambling problem is finding a support network and setting clear boundaries around finances. If your loved one is struggling with gambling, talk to them and try to understand their motivations. Getting a sponsor, someone with experience of remaining free from gambling, can be a powerful tool in helping them recover. You could also look at peer support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lastly, try to find ways to spend time with friends who do not have an interest in gambling.