Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event. It can involve anything from betting on a football match to buying a scratchcard, with the outcome being determined by luck or chance rather than skill. This can be an enjoyable pastime when done responsibly, but it can also lead to addiction and serious problems for some people. The first step to overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that there’s a problem. It can take a lot of courage to come forward and admit that you have an issue, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money and it’s affecting your family or work life.
Taking steps to overcome a gambling addiction is not easy, but it’s possible with the right support. You can seek help from a therapist, who will be able to work with you to change the unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviours that are contributing to your gambling addiction. There are a number of different types of therapy that you can try, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy and family therapy. These therapies will provide you with the tools to tackle your addiction and start making changes for the better.
There are many reasons why people gamble, some of them being for coping reasons such as to forget their worries or because it makes them feel self-confident. For others, it’s about achieving the feeling of euphoria, linked to the brain’s reward system. It’s also a popular way to socialise with friends. For some poorer people, it’s seen as a way to get rich and fulfil dreams of living the ‘good life’.
Gambling can trigger massive surges of the reward chemical dopamine, which can alter a person’s mood and make them less motivated to carry out activities that are necessary for survival like eating or working. Over time, this can change your brain chemistry and become addictive.
The earliest evidence of gambling was found in ancient China, with tiles dating back to around 2,300 B.C. found to have been used to play a form of lottery. It was later regulated and severely curtailed in ancient Rome, China, Japan, Islam and Judaism, with inveterate gamblers being punished by the law.
It’s important to remember that gambling is not a way to make money and should be treated as entertainment only. Before you head to a casino, set money and time limits for yourself. It’s also a good idea to avoid chasing your losses, as the more you try to win back what you’ve lost, the bigger the loss will be. Also, don’t gamble when you are stressed or depressed – this can lead to reckless decisions and even more money losses. Don’t gamble with your mortgage or rent money. Only gamble with money you can afford to lose and don’t use credit cards to gamble. The best way to prevent a gambling addiction is to seek treatment. Getting professional support and treatment can be life changing, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help.