How to Overcome Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. It is a highly addictive activity and it has been linked to problems with substance use, gambling disorders and depression (see the Better Health Channel fact sheet ‘Gambling – mental health issues’).

People gamble for many reasons. Some do it to relieve stress or take their minds off of other problems; others play for the excitement and the dream of a big jackpot win. Many people also feel a sense of euphoria when they gamble, which is associated with the brain’s reward system.

For those who have a gambling disorder, it’s important to find other ways to occupy their time and reduce their stress levels. This can include taking up new hobbies, rekindling old ones or simply spending more time with family and friends. It is also a good idea to avoid triggers that can lead to gambling, such as socializing with people who gamble or drinking alcohol (which can lower inhibitions and increase risk-taking).

There are several types of psychotherapy that can help treat problem gambling. These therapies can help you understand the underlying causes of your gambling behavior, change unhealthy thought patterns and learn healthier ways to manage stress. Some of these therapies are group-based and some involve the support of a licensed mental health professional.

One of the most difficult steps in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that you have a problem. This can be especially hard if you have lost money or have strained relationships as a result of your gambling habits. However, it is essential to recognize that you have a problem in order to begin to get help.

Some people find it helpful to document their thoughts and feelings as they try to overcome a gambling problem. This can be done through writing in a journal or talking to a therapist. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have other activities to fill your time, such as exercising, taking up a new hobby or volunteering for a charity. You can also try to restructure your finances, so that you are only gambling with disposable income. This may mean setting a gambling budget and deciding not to spend any more money than that amount.

It is also a good idea to avoid the temptation to gamble by leaving credit cards and nonessential cash at home when you go out. You can also set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you when your gambling session is over. It’s also important to stay away from places where gambling is popular, such as casinos and sports betting venues.

Research shows that the prevalence of gambling varies by age and socioeconomic status. The highest rates of gambling occur in those aged 22-30, and the rate declines with age after that. This is similar to the pattern of drinking, which peaks in the 20s and then decreases with age.