Gambling is a common pastime and can offer a nice rush when things go your way. However, it is important to keep in mind that gambling is a risky activity where you could lose money or your valuables. In addition to the risk, it is important to remember that gambling does not provide a long-term fix for mood problems like depression or anxiety. If you think your gambling has become a problem, there are a number of steps you can take to stop the behaviors.
The first step is to recognise when your gambling has gone out of control. This is difficult because it can feel socially acceptable to gamble and many people are unsure how to describe the problem to others.
There are a few key indicators to look out for:
Does the gambling interfere with or take over family, work or other activities? Does the gambling cause you to lie to other people about the amount of time and money spent on gambling? Does the gambling make you restless or irritable? Does the gambling lead to financial difficulties, such as debt or bankruptcy?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you should seek professional help. Counselling can help you understand why you gamble and help you explore other options. There are also a number of support groups available for people who have issues with gambling.
The other important thing to do is to make sure you only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Only gamble with disposable income and never with money that you need for bills or rent. Try to set a weekly entertainment budget and stick to it. Gambling can be very addictive, so it is important to only spend a small amount of your money on it.
It is also important to remember that gambling is not a way to get rich quickly. The odds are that you will lose most of the time. It is also a good idea to not chase your losses as this will only lead to bigger and bigger losses.
In the past, gambling has been regarded as a vice. It is now considered a mental disorder and is treated the same as any other substance-related disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
While there is no medication that can treat gambling disorders, some medications may help with co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety. There are also a range of other treatments that can be useful including cognitive behavioural therapy and family and individual counselling. Lastly, it is important to find other ways to relieve unpleasant feelings and to distract yourself from gambling, such as exercise, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or taking up new hobbies.