Gambling involves risking money or something of value on the outcome of an event that is purely chance, such as a game of cards or spin of a slot machine. It is considered a form of entertainment and can be a fun way to pass the time, but it can also lead to serious problems if you’re not careful. This article will take you through what gambling is, how it works and some useful tips to help you stay in control.
People gamble for many reasons – some enjoy the adrenaline rush of winning, while others may do it to socialise or escape from stress or worry. If you’re worried that your own or a loved one’s gambling is causing harm, there are treatments and self-help options available. However, before you seek professional help, make sure that you’re aware of the risks involved with gambling and the potential impact on your mental health.
There is a strong link between gambling and mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. These conditions can trigger gambling-related problems, such as reckless spending and borrowing money. In severe cases, this can even lead to suicidal thoughts. It’s therefore important that you speak to a GP or mental health professional if you’re concerned about your or someone else’s gambling habits.
The latest research into gambling suggests that it can be as addictive as other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. It can affect the areas of the brain linked to reward and motivation, and it can cause the same physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms as a drug addiction. This research has led to the decision by the American Psychiatric Association to treat pathological gambling as a psychiatric disorder, rather than an addiction.
While there are no medications that are approved for the treatment of gambling disorders, several types of psychotherapy can be helpful. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for example can help you change the way you think about betting. You might believe that you’re more likely to win than you actually are, or that certain rituals can bring you luck. CBT can teach you new skills to tackle these unhealthy thoughts and behaviours.
In the past, people who experienced gambling-related problems were often regarded as having character defects, but there is now a growing consensus that it is just as addictive as other drugs and can have similar effects on your health. This change in understanding has been reflected in the latest editions of the DSM manual.
When it comes to gambling, it’s important to remember that it isn’t a way to make money, and it’s not an effective way to relieve stress or depression. Instead, it’s recommended that you only gamble with disposable income and never with money that you need to pay bills or rent. If you’re having financial problems, speak to StepChange for free debt advice. The charity can also recommend local debt charities and support groups. You can also contact the Gambling Concern helpline if you have further questions.