Gambling involves risking money or something else of value on an event that is uncertain and whose outcome depends on chance, with the objective of winning a prize. Examples include betting on sports events such as horse and greyhound races, football accumulators and elections; playing casino games such as blackjack, poker or roulette; and speculating on business, insurance or stock markets. While many people can gamble casually and responsibly, some become addicted to gambling. This can have a devastating effect on their lives and cause them to miss work, school or family obligations, which can lead to financial crisis and bankruptcy. Fortunately, there are several ways that individuals can get help for their gambling addictions.
The first step in stopping gambling is to accept that you have a problem. You should also try to understand what triggers your urge to gamble. For example, do you gamble to relieve unpleasant emotions or boredom? If so, find healthier and more effective ways of relieving these feelings. Some possible alternatives include exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or taking up a new hobby.
Another way to stop gambling is to remove the temptation by avoiding places where you’re likely to gamble. For instance, you might want to stay away from friends and relatives who gamble or avoid passing by casinos and TABs on your way to work. You can also call a casino’s hotline and ask to be placed on a restricted entry list. This will prevent you from receiving promotional offers and emails.
Lastly, you can practice self-control by setting money and time limits for yourself. Also, make sure to keep your gambling activities separate from other areas of your life, such as paying bills and preparing meals. This will help you avoid overspending and allowing your gambling habit to spiral out of control. You can also practice self-control by refraining from using credit cards to fund your gambling habits.
Some individuals are able to manage their gambling addictions without the help of professionals. However, if you’re concerned that someone you know is at risk, you should encourage them to seek professional help. It is important to remember that you cannot force anyone to stop gambling, so be patient and offer support.
In the past, the psychiatric community viewed pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder, similar to kleptomania and pyromania (hair-pulling). In an effort to classify it more precisely, the American Psychiatric Association recently moved it to the Addictions chapter of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. While this move isn’t necessarily a positive one, it may give the disorder greater recognition and increase treatment options for those who need it. The change is also a significant step toward acknowledging that gambling addictions are legitimate illnesses. In addition to traditional therapies, there are numerous specialized programs available for those struggling with gambling addictions. These programs are typically based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and they provide a supportive environment for those recovering from this debilitating condition.