Help For Gambling Disorders

Gambling is an activity in which individuals risk money or other items for a chance to win. It may be done through various forms including: card games, electronic machines such as video poker and slot machines, fruit machines, and two-up, betting on horse and greyhound races or football accumulators, lottery and scratchcards, and speculating on business and insurance matters.

While most people who gamble do so responsibly, some individuals become unable to control their gambling and may end up in serious debt. This can impact their health and wellbeing, family relationships, work performance and study. It can also result in homelessness.

Problem gambling is a complex issue that requires specialist help and support to overcome. If you are concerned that you are a problem gambler, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. There are many organisations that can offer you support, advice and counselling to try and help you overcome your addiction. These include;

Research has shown that the way an individual’s brain is wired can contribute to their addiction. In particular, gambling triggers the reward system in the brain which, like any other rewards such as eating, spending time with loved ones or exercise, causes a release of chemicals that make you feel good. When the brain becomes addicted to this feeling, it seeks to recreate the sensation through gambling.

There is also evidence that genetic and psychological factors may contribute to an individual’s proneness to gambling. Individuals with a mental health condition are at greater risk of harmful gambling, which can be used to distract them from their feelings or provide relief from symptoms such as depression.

Many of the same strategies that are used to treat drug and alcohol addictions can be applied to gambling disorder. These can include:

Counselling: Individuals who have a problem with gambling may benefit from psychotherapy to help them understand and address their issues. This could be through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps you challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, or psychodynamic therapy, which looks at unconscious processes that affect your behavior.

Self-help groups: It can be difficult to manage your own problems with gambling, so it can be helpful to seek the support of others who are in a similar situation. Groups such as Gamblers Anonymous are based on the 12-step recovery model of Alcoholics Anonymous and can be a great source of encouragement and support.

Other supports: These can include:

A key factor in overcoming gambling is finding other ways to fulfil your needs and desires. If you enjoy socialising, consider joining a book club or sports team, or volunteering for a worthy cause. In addition, limiting your access to money can help you stop gambling by getting rid of credit cards or letting someone else take charge of your finances, closing online betting accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on hand at all times.