Gambling occurs when you stake something of value – usually money – for the chance to win a prize, such as cash or goods. It can happen anywhere, from a casino to your favourite online game. Regardless of the type of gambling, it’s always risky and it’s important to know the risks and how to gamble responsibly.
Gambling is a form of recreation, but some people become addicted and start behaving in harmful ways. This can affect their finances, family life and work performance. It can also have a negative effect on their mental health. If you suspect that someone close to you is struggling with harmful gambling, there are things you can do to help them get better.
A person with a gambling disorder can have a hard time stopping, even when they are experiencing financial difficulties or other problems. Their behaviour may include lying to friends and family members about their gambling, spending more money than they have or chasing their losses. People with a gambling disorder can also develop a range of other mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
While there are no medications to treat gambling disorder, a variety of psychotherapy treatments can help. These can be used alone or in combination with other treatments. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one type of psychotherapy that can be helpful to people with a gambling problem. CBT helps people change their unhealthy beliefs and thoughts about betting, such as believing they are more likely to win than they really are or thinking they can recover their losses by gambling more.
Another type of treatment is group therapy. This can be beneficial for people with a gambling disorder because it helps them build a support network and find new ways to spend their time. Similarly, family therapy can help people with a gambling disorder address the impact of their behavior on their loved ones and create a more stable home environment.
Researchers are still working to understand what causes gambling disorder. However, it appears to be a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. For example, studies of identical twins suggest that genetic factors play a role in gambling disorder. In addition, some people are more at risk of developing gambling disorder if they have a history of psychiatric disorders or other mental health issues. Finally, some people may develop gambling disorder for coping reasons, such as to relieve stress or distract themselves from emotional problems. If you’re worried that your loved one is relying on gambling for relief, talk to them about their problems and consider seeking debt advice from StepChange.