Gambling involves placing a wager on an outcome of a game involving chance with the intent to win something of value. This can include scratchcards, slot machines and betting with friends. Gambling can be considered a form of entertainment and is not illegal, but many people who gamble do so because they are addicted to the activity. This addiction can cause significant negative impacts on their lives, including problems at work and relationships with family and friends. It can also lead to financial ruin.
Some people who are addicted to gambling do so because they believe they will become rich quickly. This belief is often a result of seeing movies and television shows where people win big sums of money through gambling. Gambling is most common among individuals who are poor. The desire to make quick money can be very magnetizing and is especially enticing in poverty-stricken neighborhoods where people are trying to provide for themselves and their families.
A person who is addicted to gambling may display the following signs: – Spends more time on gambling than usual; – Loses interest in activities that normally make you happy; – Tells lies to family members or others about how much you gamble; – Gambles in order to get back money lost; – Relies on other people to lend you money to gamble; – Has jeopardized or lost a job, relationship, education or career opportunity because of gambling; – Is preoccupied with gambling and can’t focus on anything else; and – Has committed illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud or theft, to finance gambling (American Psychiatric Association 2000).
Addiction to gambling is difficult to overcome, but it is possible. The first step is to recognize that you have a problem and to seek help. There are a number of treatment options available, including group or individual therapy, medication and inpatient rehab programs. In addition, you can strengthen your support network and learn to cope with unpleasant emotions in healthier ways. For example, instead of gambling as a way to relieve boredom or stress, try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. It is also a good idea to remove the temptation to gamble by getting rid of credit cards, putting someone in charge of your finances, closing online betting accounts and keeping only a small amount of cash on you. In addition, you can seek support through self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is a 12-step program based on Alcoholics Anonymous and is designed to help people recover from gambling addiction. Ultimately, you can break the gambling habit with hard work and dedication. But it is important to remember that recovery is not easy and that even the best of us will sometimes make a mistake. If you are struggling with a gambling addiction, it’s important to speak with a counsellor as soon as you can. Our service is free, confidential and available 24/7.