How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves risking something of value (typically money) on an event or game with a chance of winning a prize. It can be done in many ways, including betting on horse races, dog shows, sports events, lotteries, online gambling sites, slot machines, scratchcards and bingo games. Gambling can also be done using items that are not monetary, such as marbles or collectable game pieces (e.g., Magic: The Gathering or Pogs).

While gambling is considered a fun pastime by most people, it can have harmful effects for some. It can also be an expensive hobby that drains a person’s finances. The good news is that overcoming a gambling addiction is possible with the help of therapy and support groups. Behavioral therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), can help individuals identify and change negative thoughts and beliefs about gambling, such as the belief that certain rituals can make you luckier or the idea that you can win back your losses if you gamble more. CBT can also teach individuals healthier coping skills and how to budget for gambling expenses.

Pathological gambling (PG) is an addictive behavior characterized by repeated maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors that result in substantial harm. Approximately 0.1-4.6% of Americans meet diagnostic criteria for PG, and men are more likely to develop the disorder than women. PG usually begins in adolescence or young adulthood and may occur alongside other addictions. Those with a gambling problem tend to have greater difficulty with strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker, than nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, such as slot machines or bingo.

While there are many benefits to gambling, it is important to know how to be a responsible gambler. For instance, you should always have a backup plan for when you lose money, such as putting the funds into savings or investing them in other activities. It’s also important to set spending limits and stick to them. You should also avoid gambling when you’re feeling down or stressed, as it can reinforce these feelings. Instead, you should try to find healthier ways to relieve boredom or stress, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Several approaches have been used to study gambling impacts, but most of them focus on the economic cost/benefits. However, this approach ignores social costs and benefits that are not monetary. For example, family members often experience psychological and emotional harm as a result of their loved one’s gambling addiction. Furthermore, a person’s gambling addiction can also impact his or her work performance and health.

Longitudinal studies can help reveal the effects of gambling over a longer period of time. However, they are rarely conducted because of financial, logistical, and ethical challenges. For example, they require massive funding for a multiyear commitment; sample attrition is problematic because the same individuals are tested repeatedly over time; and longitudinal data can confound aging and period effects.