Gambling is an activity where people risk something of value (usually money) on an event that is determined at least partly by chance. This can include betting on sporting events, buying lotto tickets, laying bets on the pokies or even playing bingo.
Most people have gambled at some point in their lives and for many it is a fun pastime that adds to their social life. But for some, gambling becomes a serious problem that negatively impacts their health, relationships, work or school performance and finances. Problem gambling can also cause stress, depression and anxiety. It can lead to substance use disorders such as alcohol or drug addiction and may even lead to suicide.
Counselling can help someone decide whether they have a gambling disorder and how to treat it. A specialised form of counselling known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be used to help someone address their thinking and behaviour around gambling. It can help them understand how their gambling is affecting them and their family. It can also help them develop strategies to deal with their urges and make healthier choices about how they spend their time.
During CBT, a counsellor will explore how a person’s beliefs and thoughts about gambling influence their decision making. This can include examining the belief that certain rituals will bring luck or that they can win back their losses by gambling more. In addition, it can look at how much a person is spending on gambling and whether they are spending more than they can afford to lose.
It is important to remember that gambling is a form of risk taking and as such there is always the possibility of losing money. It is also important to realise that the odds are often against a person and the more they bet, the greater the likelihood of them losing. This is why it is so important to budget for gambling and not consider it a way to make money.
A person who is addicted to gambling may experience the following signs and symptoms:
Having problems controlling how much they gamble. Needing to gamble in order to feel ‘happy’ or ‘excited’. Having frequent or repeated unsuccessful efforts to control or cut down on gambling. Having significant losses of money or belongings as a result of gambling. Having lost a job or a relationship because of gambling. Having difficulty sleeping or feeling restless or irritable due to gambling.
Some people are born with a predisposition to gamble or can develop an addiction from a young age. Others may become addicted to gambling because of a stressful or traumatic event in their lives. Regardless of the cause, gambling addiction can cause harm to an individual’s physical and mental health, their family and friends, their work or study performance, and their finances. In severe cases it can also lead to homelessness and financial crises. Problem gambling can be a complex issue and it is not easy to stop.