How to Break the Cycle of Gambling Addiction


Gambling is an activity in which people risk something of value, usually money, for the chance to win a prize. It can be done in a variety of settings, from casinos and racetracks to bingo halls, sports events, or even on the Internet. The most common type of gambling is slot machines, where players spin reels to make combinations and hope for a winning combination.

While some forms of gambling have social benefits, many others cause harm. Problem gambling is associated with mental health problems, including depression and thoughts of suicide, and can have serious financial consequences. It is also linked to substance abuse and other addictive behaviours. Fortunately, there are ways to break the cycle of gambling addiction.

The most important step in treating a gambling problem is admitting you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or have strained relationships with family members and friends as a result of your gambling habits. But remember, you are not alone. Many other people have fought back against gambling addiction and rebuilt their lives.

Symptoms of gambling addiction include difficulty controlling how much you spend, being preoccupied with gambling, and spending more time and money on it than you intend. If you have these symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with a therapist. They can help you develop strategies to control your gambling and cope with negative emotions.

A therapist can also teach you cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address your beliefs and perceptions about gambling. For example, you might believe that certain rituals will bring luck or that you’re more likely to win than someone else, which can lead to over-betting. CBT will teach you to recognize these thoughts and feelings, so that you can stop them before they get out of control.

The CBT process also involves learning healthy coping skills, such as developing positive behavioural and financial goals for yourself, and establishing boundaries in your relationship with your gambler. This can be done by setting money management limits with your gambler and discussing other options for recreational activities, like a trip to the movies or dinner at a nice restaurant.

In terms of research, longitudinal studies are the most useful for studying gambling impacts, because they can measure both the immediate and longer-term effects. However, there are practical and logistical barriers that make longitudinal research challenging: funding requirements for a multiyear commitment; the challenges of maintaining research teams and ensuring sample attrition over a long period of time; and knowledge that longitudinal data may confound aging and time effects (e.g., a person’s sudden interest in gambling at a particular point may be due to changes in their personal circumstances or the opening of a casino near them).

The first step in dealing with a loved one’s problem gambling is to build a strong support network. This can be done by joining a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, or attending an education class for family and friends of problem gamblers. You can also seek professional debt advice from a non-profit organisation like StepChange.