Gambling can be an addictive, fun activity, but it’s important to remember that gambling should never become your only source of entertainment. It can take a toll on your mental health and relationships if you keep it up.
Problem gambling is a serious disorder that can lead to financial problems, job loss, or family conflict. It may also be a symptom of another condition such as bipolar disorder.
Identifying a problem
Mental health professionals use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to make a diagnosis. They look at a person’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings when they gamble.
Behavioral addictions such as gambling are often treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which looks at unhealthy habits, emotions, and thoughts about betting. It helps people change their thinking and behaviors so they can stop gambling and avoid future issues.
Many problem gamblers lose money over and over again. When they lose, they may feel guilty, anxious, or depressed. They return to gambling to try and get their money back, which is called “chasing losses.” This behavior can lead to more financial distress and even suicide.
It’s important to learn how to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways. You can try exercise, socializing with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Strengthening your support network
It can be tough to fight an addiction without help. Reach out to your friends and family and ask them to be your support network. You can also join a support group like Gamblers Anonymous, which is a 12-step program that uses peer support to help people overcome their addiction.