Help For Gambling Problems


Gambling is an activity where you risk something of value (money or possessions) on an event whose outcome is at least partly determined by chance. This can include betting on football matches or scratchcards, playing casino games and online gambling. It can also involve speculating on business or financial events, and can be done legally and illegally.

Although some people can enjoy gambling, for others it can be harmful. Problem gambling can have a negative impact on physical and mental health, relationships with family and friends, work or study performance, and can lead to debt and even homelessness. It can also have an effect on the wider community, with Public Health England estimating that more than 400 suicides per year may be linked to gambling.

People who gamble often do so to relieve unpleasant feelings or boredom, or to try and make money. But there are healthier ways to manage moods and relieve boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up a new hobby or practicing relaxation techniques. People who are struggling to control their urges to gamble should consider seeking support from a professional. This could be an addiction therapist, a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, or a combination of these. Inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programmes are also available for those with severe gambling problems, who are unable to cope without round-the-clock support.

The first step is to recognise that you have a problem. If you’re concerned about your own gambling, or the gambling of someone close to you, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. You can start by talking to your GP, or looking for local support groups.

Family therapy and marriage, career or credit counseling can help you work through the issues that have been created by a loved one’s gambling problem. It’s also important to set boundaries in managing money, so that you’re not at risk of being dragged into a gambling addiction yourself.

The Psychiatric Association’s decision to classify pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder, alongside kleptomania and pyromania, is a significant change. It reflects the growing recognition that gambling disorders are not just a bad habit, but an illness that needs treatment like any other. However, it will take much more than a few counselling sessions to tackle the root causes of a gambling addiction and help a person recover. A successful recovery requires long-term commitment and the involvement of all members of a family. This includes the spouse, children and other relatives of a problem gambler. It’s also important to seek help for underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, as these can trigger or be made worse by gambling. It’s a common misconception that compulsive gambling is just about “losing it all”. That’s not always the case, but it’s important to understand your own limits and to be prepared to walk away. If you’re a beginner, it’s important to start small and only wager with money you can afford to lose.