How to Recognise a Gambling Addiction

Gambling is an activity in which people risk money or something else of value on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. This can include betting on a football match, buying a scratchcard, or playing a video game. Regardless of the type of gambling, people with an addiction to gambling can cause serious problems for themselves and those around them. The problem can affect a person’s physical and mental health, personal relationships, career, studies or performance at work, and even leave them in debt or homeless.

Gambling can be addictive because of its psychological, social and cultural significance. It can also be triggered by mood disorders such as depression, stress or substance abuse. It is important to seek treatment for these conditions as well if they are present, as they can worsen a gambling addiction and prevent recovery.

People can become addicted to any form of gambling, from the lottery to online games to casino and sports betting. However, some types of gambling are more likely to lead to compulsive behavior than others. For example, people who start gambling during childhood or the teenage years are more likely to develop a problem. People who have family members with a gambling disorder are also at greater risk of developing the same condition themselves.

The symptoms of a gambling addiction can be difficult to recognise. They may include secretive behaviour, lying to friends and family about the amount of money they are spending, hiding or throwing away winnings, and feeling compelled to continue gambling despite negative consequences. A person may also be irritable or restless when trying to cut down or stop gambling and have frequent thoughts about gambling, including replaying past bets and plans for future gambling.

There are a number of different treatments for gambling addiction, from family therapy and marriage counselling to specialised clinics and inpatient care. These treatments can help address the underlying issues that are causing a person to gamble, as well as repairing relationships and finances. It is possible to recover from gambling addiction, but it can take time and is not easy. Relapse is common, so it is important to receive ongoing support and therapy as needed.

A person with a gambling addiction can still benefit from other therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This type of therapy helps the person identify unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about gambling and replace them with more accurate and useful ones. It can also teach a person how to control their urges and manage their emotions, so they can reduce or stop gambling. It is also important to find healthy ways to relieve unpleasant feelings without gambling, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. These can be easier to do than relying on gambling as a way to feel better.