Dealing With Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves betting something of value on an uncertain event with the intent of gaining something of value. It ranges from lottery tickets or fruit machines to sophisticated casino gambling by wealthy people. It can be fun and harmless, or it can become a serious addiction that negatively impacts your life and the lives of those close to you.

Several mental health conditions can increase the risk of harmful gambling, including depression and anxiety disorders. These conditions cause people to find relief from their symptoms by engaging in risky behaviors like gambling, which can quickly escalate and lead to addiction. In addition, a person with a mental health condition may find that their gambling behavior relieves their stress by taking them out of reality and into a fantasy world where they can control the outcome.

People who are struggling with a gambling disorder often do not recognize that their problem is causing harm to themselves or those around them. They might hide their gambling habits from friends and family members or lie about the amount of money they’ve lost. They might also become preoccupied with gambling, thinking about it constantly or planning how to get more money to gamble.

A person who is struggling with a gambling disorder may be at high risk of self-harm or even suicide. If you are having thoughts of suicide or feel overwhelmed by your gambling, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. You can speak to your GP or contact the Samaritans.

It is also important to learn healthier ways to soothe unpleasant feelings, relax or socialize. You could try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. You can also consider trying new hobbies or joining a community group to connect with others.

There are also financial dangers associated with gambling, such as losing control of finances or borrowing money to gamble. There is a strong link between gambling and debt, which can have devastating consequences for your mental and physical health. If you are struggling with debt, you can speak to a StepChange Debt Advisor for free, confidential support.

People who are struggling with a gambling disorder can benefit from therapy and support groups designed to address gambling addiction. It’s also important for loved ones to take care of themselves, by getting counseling or joining a support group for families of those with gambling disorders. It’s important to avoid burnout, so you can continue to provide supportive care for your loved one on their recovery journey.