How to Reduce the Risk of Gambling and Help Someone Stop Gambling

Gambling involves risking something of value on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. It can include sports betting, lotteries, scratch tickets, DIY investing and online poker. While some people consider gambling a harmless pastime, for others it can become a serious problem that affects their physical and mental health, relationships, work or study performance, finances and even lead to homelessness. Problem gambling can also trigger substance use disorders in some people. The good news is that there are ways to reduce the risk of problem gambling and help someone stop gambling.

The first step is to find a therapist that specialises in treating gambling disorders. During treatment sessions, you can learn how to recognize the triggers and avoid them. You will also develop skills to manage cravings and find healthier coping strategies. Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and family or group therapy. Medications are rarely used in the treatment of gambling disorder, but you may be given medications to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety.

A therapist can help you understand why you gamble and how it impacts your life. They can teach you how to identify your triggers and set realistic goals for yourself, such as limiting the amount of time you spend gambling or only gambling with disposable income. You can also explore alternative recreational and social activities to replace the urge to gamble. Volunteering has been shown to increase wellbeing, so this could be a worthwhile activity to try.

You can also seek help from a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, to discuss your concerns in a nonjudgmental setting with those who might have similar experiences. You can also learn about the effects of gambling on your brain and get tips for overcoming triggers. Several different types of counseling have been proven effective in treating gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy.

Some people with a gambling disorder are predisposed to addiction because of genetics or specific areas in their brain that are involved in reward processing and impulse control. Others are at higher risk because of environmental factors, such as having friends with the same gambling habits or drinking alcohol, which can lower inhibitions and lead to risk-taking behaviours.

If you are caring for a person with a gambling disorder, it’s important to set boundaries in managing money and take control of family finances if necessary. You can also review bank and credit card statements to identify patterns of problematic gambling. It’s also a good idea to speak to a professional for local referral resources for certified gambling counselors or intensive treatment programs in your area. It can be difficult to cope with a loved one’s addiction, but reaching out for support will help you realize that many families struggle with gambling disorders and there are professionals who can provide support.