Gambling Disorders – How to Avoid Problem Gambling


Gambling is a popular pastime for some individuals and can be used as an outlet for frustration or boredom. It can also be a way to socialize with friends or family. However, when it is used to cope with difficult thoughts or life situations, gambling can be harmful. If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, it is important to seek help. You can speak to a trusted friend or family member, or call the GamCare helpline for non-judgemental support.

Many states have voluntary self-exclusion programs that allow individuals to ban themselves from casinos and racetracks. You can find out more about these programs by Googling “self-exclusion” and your state’s name or checking the division of gaming website. Alternatively, you can encourage your loved one to seek professional gambling treatment. This may take time, but an honest, non-confrontational discussion can often be the first step.

People can experience a sense of euphoria or excitement when playing casino games, especially those where they win large amounts of money. This is due to the fact that the brain releases chemicals when winning, such as dopamine and oxytocin, which can make you feel good. However, this is a short-lived feeling and the effects of gambling usually wear off quickly. This is why it is important to not gamble with money that you cannot afford to lose.

While gambling can bring pleasure, it can also have negative side-effects, such as depression, stress, anxiety and addiction. It can also increase the risk of suicide and family breakdowns. Some people are more vulnerable to gambling than others, which makes it especially important for them to be careful and monitor their gambling behaviour.

When you do decide to gamble, set a time limit and stick to it, whether you’re winning or losing. Try not to use credit cards or borrow money to gamble. Don’t chase losses – the more you try to win back your losses, the bigger your losses will likely be. Avoid gambling when you’re depressed or upset and make sure that it doesn’t interfere with work, school, friends, or family activities.

A person with a gambling disorder may need your financial help, so you should only give them money if you can afford to lose it. If you do decide to lend them money, be clear that it must be paid back, and ensure they get counselling help as well. It’s also worth considering whether they could replace gambling with other fun or social activities, such as volunteering.

It is important to recognise the underlying triggers of gambling addiction, such as feelings of boredom, stress, or grief. Identifying these triggers can help you develop an action plan to overcome your gambling habit. Taking different routes home or including social activities in specific parts of the day that you used to spend gambling may help reduce the urges to gamble. Increasing positive thoughts and gratitude can also help you to shift away from unhealthy coping mechanisms.