How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction

Gambling is the act of risking something of value (such as money or possessions) on an event that is unpredictable and involves a certain amount of luck. It can take many forms, from putting a dollar in a slot machine to placing a bet on a football game. It also includes activities like playing marbles, chess and Magic: The Gathering, where players wager collectible game pieces (small discs or trading cards) that have value. While gambling can be fun, some people develop harmful gambling behaviour that can lead to debt, family problems and even suicide.

Harmful gambling is a complex issue with multiple causes. Some research suggests that some individuals may be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity, which can contribute to gambling addiction. Various physical, social and environmental factors can also influence an individual’s vulnerability to developing problem gambling behaviour. These factors can include age, gender, location and access to resources that help prevent or control harm from gambling. The culture and values of a community may also play an important role in how individuals view gambling activity and what constitutes harmful gambling behaviour.

The first step to overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that there’s a problem. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, it’s important to reach out for support. A therapist can teach you healthy coping skills, and provide you with tools to manage your gambling behaviour.

It’s also important to set financial boundaries. Put someone else in charge of your credit card, close online betting accounts and keep only a small amount of cash on you at all times. This will help you stop impulses to gamble and avoid losing money.

You should also consider seeking support from a gambling addiction support group. These groups are based on the 12-step recovery model of Alcoholics Anonymous, and can provide you with valuable guidance and support. They can help you regain control of your finances and repair damaged relationships.

There are also online services that offer support, assistance and counselling for individuals with harmful gambling behaviour. These may be available through private providers or government-funded organisations. These services can be in the form of programs to prevent or reduce gambling harm, tools to assess risk and help with limiting or stopping gambling.

It can be hard to recognise when a person’s gambling becomes problematic. This is especially true if the person is secretive about their gambling, hiding evidence or lying to others about how much they’re spending. Often, it’s family and friends who notice the change in behaviour and encourage them to seek help.