Gambling is an activity that involves putting something of value at risk in the hope of gaining something else. It can take many forms, from buying a lottery ticket to betting on football matches or playing a scratchcard. The behaviour can be harmful when it gets out of control and impacts a person’s daily functioning. Gambling is an addictive activity and can be very difficult to break. It is important to recognise the signs of a gambling problem and seek help if it becomes an issue.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to someone developing harmful gambling behaviour. The environment in which they live, coping styles, social learning and beliefs may all influence how often and how much they gamble. Psychological disorders and mood conditions such as depression and anxiety may also trigger or be made worse by gambling.
Whether it’s online casino games, bingo or poker, gambling is a social activity. In addition to being fun and exciting, it can provide a sense of belonging. For some people, it’s even a way of escaping reality. Those who have a compulsion to gamble often experience a ‘rush’ when they win, or a high as they see their money increase. However, it is important to remember that gambling is a game of chance and it is not always possible to win.
The most important thing to consider when gambling is how much you are willing to lose. Start with a set amount that you are prepared to lose and never play with more than that. Don’t use credit cards to fund your gambling and make sure you only gamble with money that is allocated to entertainment. Always be aware of the odds – what you could potentially win or lose and don’t be fooled by free cocktails or other offers at casinos – this is known as the “gambler’s fallacy.” It’s important to know when you have reached your limits.
Trying to overcome gambling problems can be very difficult and requires commitment and support. It is important to talk to a trusted friend or family member or visit a self-help group for gambling addicts such as Gamblers Anonymous. It is also helpful to find healthier ways of relieving unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and finding other hobbies. Underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, can be triggers of harmful gambling and are likely to continue to impact a person’s life if not treated. If you are worried about your gambling and its impact on your life, speak to one of our counsellors. It’s free and confidential.