Breaking the Cycle of Gambling


Gambling is the act of risking something of value (like money) in the hope of winning something else of value. While many people enjoy gambling, for others it can become a problem that negatively impacts their mental and physical health, relationships, work performance and study, leads to debt, even homelessness. The good news is that many organisations offer support, assistance and counselling for those suffering from harmful gambling behaviour.

The first step to breaking the cycle of compulsive gambling is to identify the issue and seek help. Some people may require family, marriage and credit counseling to work through the specific issues caused by their gambling behaviour while others may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy or psychodynamic therapy.

Gambling involves placing a bet on the outcome of a random event with the aim of winning a prize. This is usually a sum of money, although prizes may also be goods or services. There are many different ways to gamble, including casino games such as slot machines, roulette and blackjack, as well as horse races, football matches and scratchcards. There are also online casinos, where players can place bets on various casino games and win real cash.

There are a number of factors that can cause problematic gambling, including a tendency to expect an early big win, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity and poor understanding of probability. In addition, stress and depression can often be contributing factors. These problems can be further exacerbated by the social pressure to gamble and the perceived rewards associated with gambling.

Many people who have a gambling addiction find it difficult to recognise the problem, even for themselves. They often deny their behaviour and lie about it to their families and friends. In addition, they may use alcohol and other drugs to mask their symptoms. The good news is that there are many ways to combat this behaviour, including seeking support from a trusted friend or family member, attending a gambling self-help group like Gamblers Anonymous, and getting involved in physical activities.

When someone is addicted to gambling, they are unable to stop despite the negative impact it has on their life. This is because gambling triggers a reward response in the brain, similar to the effect of drug use. This is due to the brain’s release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, which can be as addictive as many illicit substances.

Those who have a gambling disorder can be influenced by their genetics, environment and past experiences, and it is common for these problems to run in the family. It is also common for these disorders to begin in adolescence, particularly for men. Those who have a gambling disorder may experience a range of symptoms, including denial and a lack of control, and it can cause harm to relationships, work and study performance, and finances. In some cases, it can even lead to suicide. The good news is that the majority of those who have a gambling disorder are able to recover with professional help.