Whether it’s buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on the horses or pokies, gambling is an activity where people risk something of value in order to win something else of value. This can involve a large amount of money and is often associated with feelings of euphoria.
While it’s true that many people gamble for the chance of winning big, there are also a number of other reasons why people take part in this activity. These may include socializing with friends, mood change or the desire to escape from reality. Regardless of the reason, there are certain factors that can lead to problematic gambling.
The most common sign of problem gambling is losing control of spending and time spent on it. This can also lead to financial problems and strained or broken relationships. It’s important to recognise these warning signs and seek help when they occur.
Those with a mental health condition, including depression and anxiety, are more at risk of harmful gambling. People with these conditions may also find it difficult to recognize that they have a problem. For example, they might try to hide their gambling habits or lie to their loved ones about it.
Gambling is also linked to an increased likelihood of suicide. So, if someone has thoughts of suicide or feels unsafe, they should call 999 or visit A&E immediately. A financial crisis is also a common trigger for harmful gambling. It’s important to get free debt advice and rethink your financial priorities if this is the case for you.
While gambling can be a great way to socialise and have some fun, it’s important to know your limits. Only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and never use money that is needed for bills or rent. You should also consider setting a budget for how much you will spend on gambling each week and sticking to it.
The brain release dopamine when you win, but this also happens when you lose. This can make it hard to stop gambling once you start, as you feel like you are due a lucky break. It’s also important to remember that gambling is a game of chance, and no one knows how they will perform until it’s over.
There are a variety of effective treatments available for gambling addiction, but it’s crucial to seek help as soon as you recognise a problem. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can get back on track and regain your life. If you or a loved one has concerns about gambling, please contact StepChange for help and support. They can offer free and confidential debt advice and give you the tools you need to tackle your problem. You can even chat to a therapist online for free, with no commitment. It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit you have a gambling problem, but thousands of people have overcome it and rebuilt their lives.