How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


Whether you bet on sports, the lottery, video poker or slot machines, gambling is all about risking something of value (money or material valuables) for a prize win. The outcome of a game of chance is entirely dependent on luck, and gamblers often feel a need to be secretive about their activities in order to avoid being caught. Gambling can occur in a variety of places, including casinos, racetracks and on the Internet. Regardless of where gambling takes place, there are a number of important things that all gamblers should keep in mind to stay safe and minimize the risk of a problem.

Gambling involves risking money or other valuables on a random event, such as a roll of dice, the spin of a wheel, or the outcome of a horse race. The odds of winning are not known beforehand, and gamblers must weigh the risk against the potential for a prize win. The result of a gamble is not guaranteed, and many people end up losing much more than they gain. This element of risk and uncertainty is what defines gambling as such a dangerous activity.

While some people may be able to overcome a gambling disorder on their own, others require professional help. There are a variety of treatment options available, including individual and family counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. Some people also benefit from taking antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety medications. These medications can reduce mood swings and make it easier to focus on other tasks, thereby making it more difficult to gamble.

The first step in treating a gambling addiction is recognizing that there is a problem. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they may begin in adolescence or later in life. In some cases, a person’s family members may notice the symptoms before the person does and take steps to intervene.

If you have a family member with a gambling disorder, it is important to establish boundaries regarding money management. You should not allow your loved one to spend more than you can afford to lose, and you should not encourage them by saying “this is your last chance to win.” You should also consider seeking professional help for underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, that may be contributing to the problem.

If you are battling a gambling addiction, it’s important to surround yourself with supportive people who can help you stay strong. Find new ways to distract yourself, such as joining a book club or sports team, volunteering for charity and/or spending time with family and friends. You can also join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of recovery used by Alcoholics Anonymous. It can be helpful to have a sponsor, someone who has experience remaining free from gambling, provide guidance and support. In addition, you should try to spend less time on the Internet and be more selective about where you play games online.