Gambling involves putting money on the outcome of an event that involves chance, such as betting on football matches or buying scratchcards. It is a form of risk taking that can have serious consequences, including harming physical and mental health, straining relationships and leaving people in financial crisis or even homeless. It is also linked to an increased risk of suicide.
Some people gamble for fun and don’t have a problem, but others struggle with gambling disorders that affect their lives in a variety of ways. Often, they have other mood disorders like depression or anxiety that may trigger or be made worse by gambling. In addition, gambling can send massive surges of dopamine through the brain, which can create an unhealthy drive to seek out more pleasure from gambling and less from healthy activities. Over time, this can change the brain chemistry and cause you to need more and more gambling to get the same pleasure.
The first step in stopping harmful gambling is to acknowledge that you have a problem. It can be very difficult to admit this to yourself and your loved ones, especially if you have lost a lot of money or it has affected your work and family life. However, many people have overcome this and you can too.
There are a number of options available for those who have a gambling disorder, from support groups to family therapy and residential treatment. You can also get advice and guidance from gambling charities such as Gam-Anon.
The main thing is to avoid gambling altogether, or only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. It is also worth avoiding gambling websites or casinos that aren’t licensed and regulated. Gambling with unlicensed operators can lead to a lot of problems, including fraud and identity theft.
Psychiatric treatments such as psychotherapy can be very effective for those with gambling disorders. There are a number of different types, including cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you identify and change your unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Other treatments include group therapy and psychodynamic therapy, which explore how unconscious processes influence your behavior.
You can also find help online through services like BetterHelp, which connects you with a therapist who can help with depression, addiction and other issues. You can take a quick, anonymous assessment and be matched with a therapist in just 48 hours.