Recognizing and Dealing With Gambling Addictions


Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event with a random outcome and the prospect of winning some other item of value. It is considered a leisure activity for most people, but some become too serious about it. This type of gambling has negative social, family, and financial impacts for some people. It is important to recognize and seek treatment for compulsive gambling in order to avoid the pitfalls of this addiction.

The amount of money legally wagered annually on lottery games, sports betting, and other forms of gambling is staggering. In fact, it is estimated that the total annual turnover of legalized gambling worldwide exceeds $10 trillion. Despite the enormous amounts of money involved, many people still find themselves addicted to gambling. Some of them are even able to control their gambling and do not have any significant negative consequences, but for others it can be a problem.

In some cultures, gambling is viewed as a normal part of life, and it can be difficult to recognize a problem. Some people also have a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behaviors and impulsivity, making them more susceptible to becoming pathological gamblers. This is because of differences in the way their brains process rewards and control impulses, and it can cause them to have difficulty weighing risks against expected returns.

Other factors that can contribute to a gambling problem include gender, age, and other social or cultural influences. Men are more likely to develop a gambling addiction than women, and this may be due to the lower number of females who engage in gambling activities. People can begin to develop a gambling problem at any age, and children as young as seven can struggle with the urge to play video games that require micro-transactions or payments. Older people who feel bored or isolated are also more likely to become prone to gambling.

It is vital for people with a gambling addiction to strengthen their support network and to develop other interests that can provide them with a sense of satisfaction. They can try new hobbies, join a book club or sports team, enroll in an education class, or volunteer for a charitable cause. They can also try peer support programs such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous and uses a 12-step program to help individuals recover from their gambling addictions.

Dealing with a loved one’s gambling addiction can be difficult, especially when it affects the entire family. It is important to keep in mind that other families have dealt with this issue and have succeeded in overcoming it. It is also essential to set clear boundaries in managing household finances, and to seek professional help for the gambler if necessary. BetterHelp can match you with a licensed, accredited therapist who can assist with depression, anxiety, relationships, and more. Start by taking the assessment, and you can be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.