Gambling is a popular activity for many people, and can be a great way to spend time with friends. However, it can also be very addictive and cause problems in a person’s life. Getting help is important for anyone who has concerns about their gambling habits. There are a number of ways to get help, including talking with a counsellor, seeking professional treatment, or self-help methods. It is also helpful to consider underlying mood disorders, which may be triggered or made worse by compulsive gambling.
A person can enjoy gambling occasionally without becoming addicted, so long as they are not spending money they need to pay bills or for essential living expenses. Some people are able to gamble casually and only risk the money they have set aside for entertainment, which is generally not much more than they would spend on a night out at a cinema. This type of gambling is often referred to as social gambling.
In some cases, gambling becomes a compulsion that interferes with an individual’s daily life and leads to financial distress and emotional turmoil. Some people even find themselves in debt to the point of bankruptcy. Those who become addicted to gambling often have a hard time recognizing their problem, and do not seek help out of shame or embarrassment.
The brain circuitry associated with gambling is similar to the pathways that are rewired in those who suffer from impulse-control disorder, which is characterized by the inability to resist an urge to engage in an undesirable behavior. The Mayo Clinic explains that those with impulse-control disorders receive a feeling of excitement and emotional arousal prior to engaging in the unwanted behavior, and feel an intense urge to continue that behavior when they are actually engaged in it.
People who struggle with compulsive gambling are at risk for a range of health issues, from heart disease to depression. In addition, they are more likely to experience difficulties in relationships and employment, which can have lasting negative effects on a person’s quality of life.
In addition to a lack of income, there are other causes of gambling addiction, such as a desire to escape from boredom or a fear of not being able to cope with stress and anxiety. Counsellor Noel Bell explains that identifying triggers and replacing them with other activities can help to curb the urges to gamble. This could involve rekindling old hobbies, or planning ahead so that you are not bored in the future.
There are a variety of treatment options available for those who have a gambling problem, ranging from counselling to inpatient and residential care programs. These are usually aimed at those with severe gambling addictions who are unable to control their symptoms without round-the-clock treatment and support. Seeking help is a positive step toward recovery, and can be a huge relief for those who are struggling. While the decision to stop gambling will be a difficult one, it can be the beginning of a new chapter in your life that is more fulfilling and healthy.