Gambling is the act of risking money or other items of value to predict the outcome of a game that involves chance. It can take many forms, from scratchcards to fruit machines, and it may be an addiction for some people.
Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous, is one way to support someone who has a gambling problem. A sponsor, a former gambler who has stayed clean, can be an invaluable resource and guide.
If you think your gambling is taking over your life, make sure you seek professional help for it. This could involve a counselling session or psychiatric care if you have underlying mood disorders.
You should also be honest about your gambling problems. If you are denying them or hiding the problem, it can be hard to find treatment for your condition. Talking to your family and friends can provide a helpful overview of the situation.
It can be a good idea to set some time limits and stick to them, so you don’t spend more than you can afford to lose. This is particularly important if you are betting on games with small stakes such as lottery tickets or scratch-offs, as these can be very addictive.
Only gamble with what you can afford to lose and be careful not to borrow money to play. Doing so can lead to large losses in the future.
Avoid gambling when you are depressed, angry or in a stressful situation. This can be a trigger for compulsive gambling and make the condition worse.
Identify your gambling triggers and learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercise, spending time with people who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques.
Keep track of your gambling by writing it down, so you know exactly what you are doing when you go to the casino or online. Having a record will help you to determine when it’s time to stop, so you can avoid over-gambling and relapse.
You should never let your gambling interfere with your work, family or other activities you enjoy. If you are worried about your loved one’s gambling, seek support and don’t be afraid to set boundaries for them.
If you are not able to do this yourself, contact your local problem gambling helpline for assistance. They can provide information about treatment programs and other resources.
Getting professional help is the best way to overcome your gambling problem. A therapist can assess you and recommend a course of treatment that works for you. They can also help you build a support network, so that you have access to someone who understands your situation and can offer advice and encouragement as you recover from gambling.
A day or night programme – where you attend therapy for a series of full or half-day sessions – is another option, as is an outpatient treatment plan such as weekly one-on-one or online therapy sessions. These are available at many mental health centres and private clinics.