How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction

Gambling is an activity where you risk something of value (usually money) in the hope of winning a prize. The term gambling can include games of chance such as lottery tickets, cards, fruit machines, slot machines, two-up and bingo as well as betting on horse or greyhound races, football accumulators, other sports events or elections. Emerging technology has blurred the lines to expand the ways in which people gamble.

The key to successful gambling is knowing your limits. Ensure that you only gamble with an amount of money that you can afford to lose. It is also important to set money and time limits and stick to them. It is not a good idea to chase your losses, as this can lead to bigger losses and even more debt.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help. Problem gambling can affect your physical and mental health, relationships with family and friends, work performance, education, and leave you in serious financial trouble. It can even put you at risk of homelessness and suicide.

The biggest step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that you have one. It takes tremendous strength and courage, especially if you have lost a lot of money or strained or broken relationships as a result of your gambling. However, it is possible to break the habit and rebuild your life. There are many programs and services available to help you get back on track, including inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs.

In the past, psychiatry has not viewed pathological gambling (PG) as an impulse control disorder like kleptomania or trichotillomania (hair pulling). However, in the 1980s, while updating its diagnostic manual, the American Psychiatric Association decided to officially include PG as a mental health condition. PG is a persistent and recurrent maladaptive pattern of gambling behaviors that are out of control and despite your efforts to stop, you continue to engage in these behaviors.

Symptoms of PG include:

The best way to avoid gambling addiction is to avoid it altogether. Gambling can be fun and social, but it is important to remember that it is not a profitable or reliable way to make money. If you are going to gamble, make sure that it is part of your entertainment budget and not a replacement for essential bills like rent or utilities. Also, do not gamble with your phone bill or other emergency money. It is a good idea to use a credit card to limit your spending, as it can be difficult to track how much you’re spending while gambling. Lastly, try to gamble on days when there are less people in the casino. It is easier to walk away from a table or machine if you’re not being pressured by others to stay longer.