How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder

Gambling is a risky activity where you place something of value (such as money or your belongings) on an event with an element of chance, like a football match, scratchcard, or fruit machine. If you win, you receive the amount of money you bet, but if you lose, you lose what you put down. It’s a popular pastime and can be fun for some people, but for others it can cause serious problems.

Problem gambling is a mental health disorder that can lead to serious financial, emotional and family problems. It’s important to seek treatment if you have a gambling problem or are concerned about someone else’s. The good news is that there are ways to overcome a gambling addiction, and many treatments are available.

While there are no medications to treat gambling disorder, psychotherapy (talk therapy) can be helpful. There are a number of different types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Some psychotherapists also use meditation, yoga and other techniques to help with anxiety and depression, which may be triggers for problem gambling.

Some people gamble because it gives them a sense of control or achievement. They may also feel like it helps them escape from everyday life and feel special or important. This is because gambling can give them a rush of dopamine, which makes them feel happy and excited. This is similar to the feeling you get when you complete a challenge, such as shooting baskets into a net or playing a sport.

However, the dopamine rush from gambling doesn’t last as long and it can actually make you feel worse in the long run. It’s because of this that it’s crucial to learn how to control your bankroll and stop spending more than you can afford to lose.

Other factors that can contribute to problem gambling include genetics and culture. People who have a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behaviours or impulsivity, or who have suffered traumatic childhood experiences are at higher risk for developing a gambling disorder. Gambling disorder can also be triggered by mood disorders such as depression or stress, and it can make existing mood disorders worse.

It’s also important to learn how to handle your emotions in healthy ways, and find other hobbies and social activities to enjoy. You can also seek help for underlying mood conditions such as depression, stress and substance abuse. Speak to a trained mental health professional for advice, and try to stay away from gambling sites and casinos if you’re struggling. If you are in debt, speak to StepChange about free, confidential debt advice. Lastly, it’s important to build up a support network, and join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This can be a great way to gain insight into the disease and learn how other people have dealt with it.