Problem Gambling

Gambling is an activity where people risk money or something of value on an event that is largely dependent on chance. It is a common pastime for many people but for some, it can become a serious problem. Occasional gambling is not usually a problem, but if someone feels that they need to gamble more frequently, spend more money than they can afford or if their gambling causes them distress it could be a sign of an underlying mood disorder.

People can develop a problem with gambling at any age. However, people who start to gamble in their teens or early adulthood are more likely to develop a gambling problem. This may be because they are at a time of life when they are more vulnerable to developing depression or other mood disorders, which can trigger gambling.

Some people who have a problem with gambling can manage to stop on their own. Others, however, need professional help. The first step is to talk about it with someone who can listen in a non-judgemental way. This might be a family member, friend or support group such as Gamblers Anonymous.

It is also helpful to try to identify and challenge negative thinking patterns that contribute to compulsive gambling. These include the illusion of control, irrational beliefs and the gambler’s fallacy. This can be done in therapy where there are evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy that have been shown to reduce gambling problems.

In some countries, it is illegal to gamble. A person who is convicted of a misdemeanor offense, for example, can receive up to a year in jail. A felony conviction, on the other hand, can carry a much longer prison sentence. In addition, the court may order a person to undergo treatment for gambling disorder.

If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. In the United States, the Gateway Foundation offers various evidence-based treatments for gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. In addition, we offer peer-led support groups where people can share their experiences in a nonjudgmental and confidential setting.

It is a good idea to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and keep a record of your gambling activities. It can also be helpful to limit the amount of time you spend gambling and to avoid triggers, such as by not driving past casinos or changing the channel on your TV if watching sports makes you want to bet. It is also helpful to only use disposable income and not money you need for bills or rent.