How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder

How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which people bet money or other items of value on an event with uncertain outcome. It can be done through various means, including the lottery, cards, bingo, slots machines, instant scratch tickets, horse races, sporting events and dice. The act of gambling can have devastating consequences for those with a gambling disorder. People with this condition often lose jobs, homes and relationships, as well as rely on others to meet their financial obligations. They may even commit crimes such as theft, embezzlement and forgery to finance their habit. In addition, they may use credit cards and other forms of debt to fund their gambling activities.

Many factors can contribute to pathological gambling, but it typically runs in families. Trauma, poverty and social inequality, especially in women, can also increase a person’s risk of developing the problem. It can begin in adolescence or later in life, and symptoms can affect all aspects of a person’s life.

While the urge to gamble can be a powerful one, there are many ways to overcome it. Those with a gambling disorder can find help through treatment, support groups and self-help tips. They should avoid isolation and be sure to spend time with other loved ones. They can also distract themselves with other activities, such as exercise and reading. They can also try to limit their money spending by removing credit cards, having someone else handle their finances and closing online betting accounts.

People who gamble do so for a variety of reasons, from the adrenaline rush to win money to the desire to socialize and escape stress or worry. It’s important for loved ones to understand these motivations, so they can better support the person. They can also try to encourage other healthy behaviors, such as exercise and healthy eating.

Over the long term, gambling sends massive surges of dopamine through the brain, which can cause a person to seek the reward less and less. This can lead to an unhealthy addiction, where the individual needs to gamble more and more in order to feel the same pleasure. Moreover, repeated exposure to gambling and uncertainty can alter the reward pathways in the brain, similar to the effects of taking drugs.

For those with a gambling disorder, a key step in recovery is to set money and time limits for themselves. They can also get help from a counselor to address issues that are contributing to the behavior. Behavioral therapy can teach a person how to control their emotions and face their problems head on. Medications can also help, although they don’t cure the disorder.

If a family member has a gambling disorder, it’s important to set boundaries for their finances and credit. This can prevent them from being tempted to gamble by giving in to the urge “just this once.” Reaching out to a support group can also help, as many families have experienced similar struggles.