Whether it’s buying a Lotto ticket, betting on the horse races or playing the pokies, gambling is a popular pastime that involves risking something of value for the chance to win more money or a prize. However, if the thrill of gambling turns into an addiction, it can cause problems for people from all walks of life. Problem gambling can strain relationships, interfere with work and even lead to financial ruin. In some cases, a person may even resort to criminal behavior to fund their habit.
Compulsive gambling tends to run in families, and it can start at any age. But it’s most common in young and middle-aged men, and can become more pronounced with age. Trauma and social inequality can also increase the risk of gambling disorder, particularly in women. Compulsive gambling also appears to be more prevalent among those who are depressed or in pain.
While it’s not always possible to quit gambling, there are ways to reduce or eliminate your urges to gamble. You can try cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches you to challenge irrational beliefs and behaviors that trigger your urges. For example, it’s important to recognize that your urges are triggered by certain emotions, such as boredom or anger, and that you can find healthier ways to relieve those feelings.
Another option is to surround yourself with supportive people who can help you resist temptation. You can also limit your gambling time, avoid tempting environments and websites, and give up control of your finances (at least at first). In addition, you can replace the excitement of gambling with other activities that make you happy, such as spending time with friends and family or enjoying a hobby.
Some medications can be helpful for some people with gambling disorders. But it’s usually the person who decides to change their behavior and take action that makes a difference. To help you break the cycle, consider finding a counselor who can support you in your recovery.
Once you’ve found a counselor, learn about the different types of treatment available. Some are based on cognitive-behavioral therapy and others use psychodynamic methods. You can also get help from a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. Lastly, keep in mind that physical activity can also help to reduce urges. If you’re still struggling, you can always call a helpline or attend a support meeting.