Gambling involves the risk of something of value, such as money or property, in a game of chance with an element of skill. It can take many forms, from sports betting to casino games. It can also involve speculating on the outcome of an event such as a political election or business deal. Problem gambling can damage a person’s physical and mental health, relationships and performance at work or study, lead to financial ruin and even cause suicide. It can also harm family members and friends. It is estimated that there are 400 suicides linked to problem gambling every year. Problem gambling can also affect the economy by reducing tax revenue, creating unemployment and causing crime. It can also increase government spending on social services, prisons and other public expenditure.
The Psychiatric community used to treat pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder, a fuzzy label that included kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair pulling). In what some therapists call a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association moved the condition to the addictions chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in May this year.
There are a number of ways to help someone struggling with gambling addiction, including cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT. This type of therapy looks at a person’s beliefs about betting, for example whether they believe that certain rituals will bring them luck or that they can recover from their losses. It also addresses how a person’s emotions, such as anxiety or boredom, impact their urges to gamble.
Reducing the factors that trigger gambling is an important step. This includes avoiding high-risk situations, such as using credit cards, taking out loans or carrying large amounts of cash with you. It is also helpful to avoid gambling venues and instead seek alternative recreational activities or hobbies that will give you the same sense of enjoyment. It is also important to learn how to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Lastly, it’s important to set aside some money to spend on fun things. This will keep you from feeling deprived and may even motivate you to gamble less. You can also sign up for a support group, like Gamblers Anonymous, to receive advice from peers who have fought their own gambling addictions.
It’s also important to set up debt repayment plans with creditors if you’re already in serious trouble with your finances. You should also try to find a way to earn extra income, such as working from home or boosting your salary through freelance or consultancy work. In addition, you should consider getting debt advice from a specialist. You can contact StepChange for free, independent debt advice. They can assess your situation and suggest a suitable solution to help you get back on track. They can also refer you to a debt charity if needed.