Gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value (money, goods or services) on a game with a chance of winning or losing. In most countries, there are a number of different ways to gamble including lotteries, casino games and scratchcards. It’s estimated that the total amount of money legally wagered worldwide is about $10 trillion.
People can be motivated to gamble for many reasons. Some may see it as a fun social activity to be enjoyed with friends, while others may feel the need to escape from everyday problems and worries. Psychiatrists have long recognised that gambling can be an addictive behaviour and have developed a number of therapeutic treatments to help people overcome their addictions.
Research has shown that when a person places a bet, their brain releases a chemical called dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel excited and happy. The feeling of dopamine also causes us to seek out rewards – such as spending time with friends or eating a tasty meal. This explains why some people find it difficult to stop gambling, even when they have lost large amounts of money.
Despite the positive feelings that gambling can trigger, it is important to remember that gambling has many negative effects, including financial, labor, and health impacts. The most visible of these are the changes in a gambler’s finances, but there are also indirect costs that may be harder to recognise. These include lying to loved ones about how much you are gambling or relying on them for money to fund your habit, jeopardising a job, career or education opportunities and putting relationships at risk.
There are several types of psychotherapy that can be used to treat a gambling disorder, including family therapy and group therapy. These can help a person understand the root cause of their gambling and learn healthier coping strategies. They can also teach a person to control their spending and take back some of the responsibilities that they have handed over to a problem gambler.
Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it. However, it can be a difficult step to take, especially if you have lost a significant amount of money and strained or broken relationships as a result of your gambling. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to do this alone, and there are many people who have successfully recovered from their own gambling addictions. If you are struggling with a gambling disorder, get in touch with Better Health Channel to be matched with a qualified therapist. Our service is free and confidential. We’ll connect you with a vetted and professional therapist in as little as 48 hours. Get started today!