Dealing With Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intent of winning another item of value. It can take many forms, from playing cards with friends in a private setting to placing bets on horse races or football games in the workplace. Some people use gambling as a way to satisfy their basic needs for money, excitement and social interaction. For others, it can lead to health problems, poor performance at work or school, debt and even homelessness.

In addition, gambling has been shown to cause negative external impacts for individuals, families and communities. The effects of gambling are observed at three levels: personal/interpersonal, community/society and long-term. The methods for assessing these impacts vary. Personal/interpersonal impacts tend to be non-monetary in nature, such as the invisible cost of a gambler’s addiction or the financial strain on family members. Community/societal level impacts are also monetary, such as the cost of problem gambling or the economic impact of casinos.

Those who have gambling problems often exhibit a variety of symptoms, including secretive behavior, lying about their spending and impulsivity. They may also develop a false sense of security by betting on outcomes that are highly unlikely, or they might attempt to overcome their losses by increasing their bets. Behavioral therapy can help those with gambling problems learn to control their impulses and improve their overall quality of life.

Some people with gambling issues also have trouble coping with boredom, which can lead to a desire to gamble. They may also find relief from stressful life events through gambling, or they might seek status and a feeling of specialness by engaging in behaviors such as sports betting or attending casino events.

Research shows that there are a variety of factors that contribute to gambling addiction, such as the desire for quick thrills, a false sense of security, a desire to meet basic needs, poor reasoning skills, cognitive distortions and an inability to control one’s own finances. Other causes include a lack of emotional closeness, boredom susceptibility, a lack of social support, the use of escape coping and depression.

The first step in dealing with a loved one’s gambling addiction is to get support. Talk to a counselor, attend a family recovery program or visit Gamblers Anonymous. Also, make sure to set clear boundaries with your loved one about money, such as by letting someone else handle the family’s credit and closing online gambling accounts. In addition, physical activity can help reduce gambling urges. It is also important to reach out for professional help, such as family and marriage counseling or career and credit counselors. In addition, there are self-help groups for families affected by a loved one’s gambling disorder. These can be a good source of peer support and encouragement.