How to Prevent Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a form of risk-taking where you wager something of value on a random event. It can take many forms, such as casino games, lottery tickets, scratch-offs, sports betting or online poker. Some people gamble for fun and others do it to make money. However, gambling can become a serious problem and lead to addiction. In 2013, pathological gambling was finally recognised as a mental illness and added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

When someone is addicted to gambling, they will keep playing despite negative consequences for themselves or others. They will also feel a need to hide their gambling from family, friends or employers and may lie about how much they spend. They may also feel a strong urge to gamble on impulse, even when they know they’re not in the mood. They often have trouble assessing the long-term impact of their actions and may have genetic or psychological predispositions to gambling addiction.

There are a number of things you can do to help reduce your risks and prevent gambling addiction. Start by only gambling with money that you can afford to lose. Never use money intended for rent, food or other necessities to gamble. Do not gamble when you’re depressed or upset, as these are bad times to make decisions. Avoid chasing your losses by trying to win back lost money; this is known as the “gambler’s fallacy.” Instead, set a time limit for how long you want to gamble and leave when you reach that time, whether you’re winning or losing.

Another important thing to remember is that there is always a chance you will lose, no matter how skillful you are. This is because of a phenomenon called partial reinforcement. Partial reinforcement occurs when an action is not rewarded 100% of the time and leads to a positive outcome some of the time, so it motivates you to continue doing it. This is why people are able to get hooked on gambling – they think that they are due for a big win any day, and this expectation drives them to gamble.

Lastly, you should never gamble alone or with people who have an addictive personality. It can be difficult to control your behavior if you’re around people who encourage you to gamble or try to convince you that you need to “win it all.” If you have a friend or family member with an addictive personality, talk to them about their gambling. It’s likely that they’ll be able to recognise the symptoms of a gambling problem and can offer you support.

If you’re concerned about your own gambling or the gambling of someone close to you, contact CAPS to get help. We have a variety of counselors and psychiatry providers available to meet with you over the phone or via video chat through AcademicLiveCare, our free virtual counseling and psychiatry service. You can schedule a screening or drop in for a Let’s Talk session anytime.