Breaking the Gambling Habit

Whether in twinkly casinos or on online gambling websites, many of us enjoy the thrill of a good win. But for some, gambling becomes a harmful habit that can damage physical and mental health, strain or even break relationships, interfere with work performance and study, cause legal trouble and end up with people in debt to the point of homelessness. For many, the first step to breaking this pattern is realizing that there is a problem. The second is seeking help. But with the right tools and support, anyone can break this addiction.

Gambling is any stake or risk of something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the control of the participant, wherein there is an agreement that someone else will receive something of value in the event of a successful result. This includes games of chance, like lottery or bingo, as well as wagering on sports events such as horse races and football games within a social circle. However, it does not include bona fide business transactions valid under contract law, such as purchases and sales of securities or commodities, contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health and accident insurance.

Although the underlying causes of problematic gambling remain unclear, researchers have found that some individuals are predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity. This may be due to genetics or differences in brain reward mechanisms. Other factors that contribute to the development of a gambling disorder include psychological and environmental influences. For example, some communities have a high tolerance for gambling and view it as an acceptable pastime. This can make it difficult for people to recognize a gambling problem, especially when they are in denial.

There are also cultural and environmental influences that can affect the severity of a gambling disorder, such as the degree to which a person values winning. For example, in some cultures, it is considered rude to refuse a gift. Furthermore, some people may gamble because it gives them a sense of belonging and provides an opportunity to interact with family and friends.

Another factor is the amount of time a person spends on gambling and the frequency and intensity of the behavior. Lastly, some research has found that certain psychological and neurological disorders can lead to a gambling disorder. These conditions can cause an inability to control impulses and emotions, making it more likely that a person will engage in destructive gambling behaviors.

There are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat gambling disorder, but psychotherapy can be helpful. This type of therapy consists of talking with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker, and learning coping skills to manage stress. This can help you change unhealthy thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that trigger gambling. It can also help you find healthier ways to spend your time. Counseling can also help you repair damaged relationships and regain control of your finances.