Gambling – Why Do People Gamble and What to Do If You Think There’s a Problem

Gambling is when you risk money or something else of value in an attempt to predict the outcome of a game of chance, whether it’s lottery tickets, scratchcards, fruit machines or betting with friends. If you win, you get your money back – but if you lose, you lose your money. It’s an exciting and fun way to pass the time, but be careful that you don’t become addicted.

Why do people gamble?

Many people enjoy gambling as a social activity and it’s often portrayed in the media as glamorous, exciting, sexy and fashionable. For some people it provides a temporary escape from their problems, be they financial, emotional or psychological. It is also a way to meet new people. However, some people develop a problem and need help with their gambling.

There are a number of reasons why people develop a gambling disorder. The symptoms can start at any age and it is more common in men than women. Trauma and social inequality can also be contributing factors. Several types of therapy can help, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. The most effective approach is to find alternatives to gambling and try to tackle the underlying issues.

The brain: A change in the way the reward center of the brain is triggered can contribute to a person developing a gambling problem. It’s similar to how a person can develop a tolerance to drugs or alcohol. As they continue to gamble, their brain becomes more accustomed to the pleasurable effects and this causes them to need more of the drug to feel the same effect.

Gambling: What to do if you think there’s a problem

If someone you know has a gambling problem, it’s important to talk to them and be supportive. You may need to encourage them to seek treatment or support groups. There are a number of resources available to help, from local community centres to residential or inpatient programs. Some of these provide family therapy, which can be particularly helpful for families.

It’s best not to gamble when you’re upset or depressed. Try to balance your gambling with other activities and spend no more than you can afford to lose. Be sure not to use credit cards to gamble, and don’t borrow to gamble. It’s a good idea to set a time limit before you gamble and leave when that time is up, whether you’re winning or losing. Don’t chase your losses; chances are the more you try to win back, the more you will lose. Also, avoid gambling when you’re tired or distracted. This will reduce your focus and can lead to poor decisions. Avoid superstitions too – a roll of the dice, sitting in a certain spot or wearing a lucky charm are all ways to fool yourself into thinking you have some control over a gambling outcome. Gambling is a game of chance, not skill.