How to Overcome a Gambling Problem

Gambling is the risking of something of value on an event that is primarily based on chance, such as a roll of the dice, a spin of the roulette wheel, or a horse race. It has existed in virtually every society throughout history and is often incorporated into local customs and rites of passage. While gambling has many positive social and psychological benefits, it also can cause a variety of problems, such as addiction, financial hardship, and damaged relationships.

Problem gambling can be defined as a pattern of behavior that causes an individual to spend more time and money on gambling than he or she intended, or is unable to stop even when faced with negative consequences. It is associated with a range of symptoms, including: a lack of control over spending; lying to family members or therapists about gambling; chasing losses (returning money after losing it); and jeopardizing employment, education, or personal relationships to finance gambling. Problem gamblers also often experience depression, stress, or substance abuse.

Several factors can contribute to gambling problems, including: genetic predisposition, an underactive brain reward system, and impulsivity. These biological differences may be exacerbated by environmental factors, such as a culture that values gambling and makes it hard to recognize when a person has a problem.

The most important step in overcoming a gambling problem is realizing that you have one. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to admit that you have a gambling disorder, especially if you’ve lost money or strained your relationships as a result. However, many people have overcome this challenge and rebuilt their lives.

There are a number of different ways to get help for a gambling addiction. It’s helpful to strengthen your support network and find new ways to enjoy yourself that don’t involve putting your money on the line. You can try joining a book club or sports team, taking a class, or volunteering for a cause you believe in. You can also join a peer support group for gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step recovery program is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, and it can help you regain control of your life.

If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. You can start by taking BetterHelp’s assessment and getting matched with a licensed, accredited therapist. We can help you with depression, anxiety, relationships, and other issues that may be contributing to your gambling addiction. And we can help you work through the specific issues caused by your gambling problem and lay a foundation for healthy, fulfilling relationships and finances.