Gambling can be a fun way to pass the time, but when people start gambling compulsively it can become a huge problem. It can cause debt, bankruptcy and even homelessness. In addition, it can also have a negative impact on relationships and children. Those suffering from gambling addiction need to seek professional help in order to break the habit and recover from its negative effects.
Whether it’s buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on the horse races or playing the pokies, gambling is something that most people do at some point in their lives. However, there are some who have a problem with gambling, as outlined by Counselling Directory. Symptoms of a gambling addiction include missing work or education, lying to family members and friends about your gambling, losing interest in hobbies and activities and spending more time gambling than you do with your loved ones. It can also lead to social isolation and depression.
In the past, the psychiatric community viewed pathological gambling as more of an impulse-control disorder, similar to kleptomania, pyromania or trichotillomania (hair pulling). But this year, the American Psychiatric Association moved it into the category of addiction in the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Some experts believe that moving pathological gambling into the addictions chapter will result in more effective treatment and a better understanding of how to prevent and treat it.
Adolescents are often indoctrinated to gamble because of peer pressure, as well as family attitudes and values. It is also a common coping mechanism for adolescents who are experiencing boredom, loneliness or grief. Studies have shown that those who start gambling as adolescents are more likely to report problems with substance abuse in adulthood.
There are a number of different strategies that can be used to combat gambling addiction. These include seeking help from a professional, cutting down or stopping gambling completely, and avoiding risk factors such as credit cards, taking out loans or carrying large amounts of cash. If you are a family member of someone with a gambling problem, talking openly about your concerns is a good idea. This can be done in a supportive, non-judgmental manner.
You can also reduce temptation by removing yourself from places where you are likely to gamble or by avoiding friends who gamble. If driving by a casino or TAB on the way to work triggers thoughts of gambling, try to take another route home. If watching sports makes you want to bet, consider switching to a new sport or television show. Finally, finding alternative recreational activities or hobbies to fill your free time can be a great way to keep gambling out of your life. For more information on local resources for gambling addiction, visit your problem gambling helpline. In the US, you can find a list of gambling hotlines here and in Canada here. You can also call your doctor or a counselor for more help.