Gambling is a popular pastime for many people, but it can also be a serious problem. A recent study shows that gambling can lead to a range of problems, such as depression, family breakdown, illegal activity, and even suicide. The good news is that there are ways to help people overcome their gambling addictions and change their behaviour. The first step is to stop spending money on gambling. This can be done by getting rid of credit cards, having someone else in charge of finances, closing online betting accounts and keeping only a small amount of cash on hand. If you have a mental health problem, speaking to a counsellor can also help.
If you have a family member with gambling problems, it is important to talk about it and seek help. Often, it is easier to cope with a loved one’s addiction when you realise that they are not alone in their struggle. Talking to a counsellor can help you understand the issues and learn how to deal with them effectively.
Research shows that family members of gamblers are at a higher risk for gambling problems than people without the condition. Family members of problem gamblers also tend to be more likely to have a mental health disorder. This can make it harder for them to control their emotions and find healthy ways of coping with stress.
It is important to remember that the chances of losing are greater than winning. It is also a good idea to expect to lose and budget for it. It is better to view your gambling as a form of entertainment rather than an investment, and to treat any winnings as a bonus. It is also a good idea to limit the time you spend at casinos and other gambling establishments.
Some people use gambling to self-soothe unpleasant feelings or to socialise with friends. However, there are healthier and more effective ways to relieve boredom and unpleasant emotions. For example, exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques can be more effective than gambling.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a psychological disorder that affects 0.4%-1.6% of Americans. It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood and can develop into a full-blown behavioural problem over a number of years. PG is more common among men than women, and tends to start with more strategic, face-to-face gambling activities, such as blackjack or poker. It can then progress to less-strategic, non-interpersonal gambling activities, such as slot machines or bingo. Despite its pervasiveness, treatment options for PG are limited and unproven. Many of the available treatments are based on eclectic theoretic conceptualizations of PG and have shown only modest effectiveness. Newer treatment approaches based on integrated and/or multidisciplinary models are being explored. These have the potential to improve the effectiveness of current treatment practices. However, longitudinal studies are critical for identifying factors that moderate and exacerbate PG. These could include genetic, environmental, and socioeconomic factors.