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What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling is an activity in which people stake something of value on a random event with the intention of winning a prize. This can include any game of chance, including lottery tickets and video games. Many people who gamble do so to win money, but some also use gambling to manage their emotions and escape from painful experiences or feelings. Gambling is often considered a socially acceptable form of entertainment and can be found in many places, from casinos and racetracks to gas stations and church halls. It is also increasingly available online.

While the term ‘gambling addiction’ is sometimes used to describe a specific clinical diagnosis, many people who struggle with problem gambling also have other mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, and may be struggling with financial hardship. This can lead to additional risky behaviors such as borrowing money from family and friends, spending more than they can afford or attempting to compensate for a lack of income by gambling more. Some individuals who have a gambling disorder also report thoughts of suicide.

There are a number of different treatment options for gambling disorders, but the first step is often acknowledging that there is a problem and seeking help. Counseling can be a powerful tool to increase awareness and improve self-esteem. Individual therapy can focus on exploring past experiences and underlying issues that influence your behavior, while psychodynamic or group therapy can help you connect with other individuals who have similar struggles. If you’re battling an addiction to gambling, it’s important to set limits in managing your finances and credit, so that you can keep track of how much you’re spending.

Taking breaks from gambling is also a crucial step in reducing the urge to play. When you start feeling that urge coming on, it’s a good idea to take a walk, go for a short drive or just take a few minutes to refresh your senses. This will give you a better perspective on the situation and make it easier to resist the temptation.

If you’re concerned that your loved one has a gambling disorder, it’s important to seek support and treatment. Reach out to our therapist directory and get connected with a vetted and licensed professional who can help you break the cycle of gambling-related problems.

Research on gambling has typically been focused on the behavioural aspects of the problem, with some attention to cognitive distortions associated with gambling problems such as denial and over-generalization. However, this definition of a gambling disorder misses the broader socio-cultural and economic forces that influence gambling practices.

An approach rooted in practice theory can offer a new way to understand the problem of gambling and to develop holistic harm reduction strategies. Practice theory work can explore the ways in which bodies, materials, norms, and discourses shape gambling. This can inform policymaking and interventions that recognise the power of these forces to shape and reshape gambling practice and reduce its harmful consequences.