Dealing With an Addiction to Gambling

Gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value (like money) on the outcome of a random event with the purpose of winning a prize. It includes card games, lottery, video poker and slot machines as well as betting on football accumulators and horse races or even elections.

Generally, gambling is a form of entertainment and should never be treated as a source of income or used to meet financial obligations. Having an addiction to gambling can also lead to a variety of mental health issues including anxiety and depression. It is important to seek treatment for any underlying conditions contributing to your problem gambling and to develop a plan for dealing with your addiction.

Some people gamble to make themselves feel better when they are depressed or to distract themselves from other problems they are facing, such as debt. Compulsive gambling can also cause problems with relationships and work.

People with a mental health condition like bipolar disorder are at higher risk of developing an addiction to gambling. This may be because they are more likely to gamble as a way of self-medication and are less likely to accept that they have a problem. Treatment options for gambling addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing unhealthy behaviors and beliefs about gambling, and relapse prevention techniques.

The biggest challenge for a person with a gambling addiction is recognising that they have a problem and accepting it as an illness. This can be difficult, particularly if they have lost a lot of money and have strained or broken relationships. Many people also find it hard to admit that they have a gambling problem because they don’t want to feel ashamed.

The first step towards recovery is setting boundaries in your relationship with gambling. This might mean limiting the amount of money you spend or staying away from casinos and other gambling outlets. You can also try to focus on other hobbies and interests, or take up new activities such as walking or joining a book club. It is also a good idea to set a time limit for how long you want to gamble and stick to it. Try not to chase losses – the more you try to win back your money, the more you’ll lose. Finally, try to avoid gambling when you’re tired or upset. It’s also a good idea to strengthen your support network by spending time with friends who don’t gamble. If you need to, join a support group like Gamblers Anonymous or an online forum to get help from other people with the same issue.