How to Overcome Gambling Problems


Gambling is the practice of placing money or something else of value on the outcome of a game of chance. It can take many forms, from buying scratchcards to betting on a horse race. Regardless of the medium, gambling involves risk and is often addictive.

People who gamble are often impulsive, and it can be difficult for them to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. They may also be predisposed to gambling addiction by genetics and their environment. Gambling addiction is associated with other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. It can also lead to financial problems, debt, and strained relationships with friends and family.

Many people can gamble responsibly and stop when they have had enough, but for others it is more challenging. The first step to overcoming a gambling problem is admitting that you have a problem. It can be especially hard for people who have lost a significant amount of money or have ruined their relationships with loved ones. Getting help is essential for those with gambling disorders and their families. Counseling can provide valuable tools for dealing with the underlying issues that contribute to the gambling disorder. Individual and family therapy can teach coping skills, improve communication, and work through relationship problems. Counseling can be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication or a self-help program like Gamblers Anonymous.

A common cause of gambling problems is an imbalance in the brain’s reward system. When you win, your reward system gets a surge of dopamine that keeps you coming back for more. As time goes on, your brain starts to build a tolerance to this dopamine surge. This is why it becomes increasingly harder to stop winning and eventually leads to more frequent, larger losses.

Another factor is a tendency to feel more emotionally sensitive to losses than gains of the same magnitude. This makes a loss more painful than a gain, and it is this pain that motivates some gamblers to continue to lose until they make up their losses. This cycle of losing and then trying to regain the previous wins can be vicious.

When you are gambling, try to set a fixed amount of money that you can afford to lose and stick to it. Also, keep a watch on your spending and avoid using money that is meant for rent or food to place bets. It is also a good idea to leave your credit cards at home when going out to gamble.

If you have a friend or family member who has a gambling problem, reach out to them and offer support. You can also ask a counselor for advice or sign up for BetterHelp, an online counseling service that matches you with licensed, accredited therapists. You can take a short assessment and get matched within 48 hours. You can also schedule a Let’s Talk session with CUCRC or the CU Boulder Counseling and Psychological Services to talk with a professional about your concerns.