Avoiding Gambling Addiction
You’re in a twinkly casino, filling up at the buffet and itching to roll the dice or spin the reels to see if luck is on your side. But gambling can be a dangerous game, and the experience isn’t quite how it looks in movies. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you gamble.
Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money, possessions, etc.) on an event whose outcome is uncertain. This activity can take many forms, including the lottery, scratch-off tickets, video poker and slot machines. It can also involve playing card games, sports betting and non-skilled games such as dice and roulette. Gambling can lead to a number of social and health problems. Some of these are directly related to the gambling activities themselves, while others are indirectly associated with them. These include psychosomatic symptoms such as musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disorders; depression, anxiety, substance misuse and personality disorders among problem gamblers; financial problems including debt, bankruptcy and family and interpersonal relationship issues; crime and gambling-related victimisation.
Some of these risks can be reduced through primary and secondary prevention strategies. Primary prevention focuses on raising awareness and providing education to help prevent gambling-related problems. Secondary prevention involves screening for gambling-related problems in people at risk and identifying barriers to seeking treatment. Tertiary prevention aims to provide treatment and support for those who have a gambling-related problem.
Various behavioural therapies can be used to treat gambling addiction. Cognitive-behaviour therapy teaches people to resist unwanted thoughts and behaviours, while mindfulness training can help them to be more aware of their impulses and feelings. Another effective therapy is relapse prevention, which involves teaching gamblers to recognise and cope with triggers for gambling.
Another way to avoid gambling addiction is to develop an alternative activity for relaxation. It’s important to make sure that you don’t use gambling as a substitute for other activities that are important in your life, such as socialising or exercise. Find a hobby or activity that gives you the same enjoyment without the risky element. You can even try joining a book club, enrolling in a class, taking up a sport or volunteering for a good cause.
If you have a loved one who struggles with gambling addiction, it’s important to seek support. Family and friends may offer a sympathetic ear, but it’s helpful to reach out to a peer support group for a more neutral perspective. You can join Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program based on Alcoholics Anonymous, which is designed to help people recover from their addiction.
You can also help a friend or loved one with a gambling problem by taking over their finances and setting limits in their spending habits. However, you must be careful not to bail them out of debt or encourage them to spend more money. Moreover, it’s important to consider underlying mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, which can both trigger gambling-related problems and worsen them.