How to Prevent a Gambling Problem

Aug 13, 2023 Gambling


Gambling involves placing something of value (typically money) at risk in a game with an element of chance or skill, such as lotteries, card games, scratch cards, video poker, slot machines, dice, horse races, animal races, and more. It is considered an addictive activity that can have serious consequences for health and wellbeing. Gambling may affect your physical and mental health, relationships with friends and family, work performance or study, get you into trouble with the law or leave you in serious debt. Problem gambling can also have a negative impact on communities.

Many people who have a gambling disorder have a high tolerance for loss and are highly impulsive, meaning they are easily overwhelmed by their emotions and are unable to control themselves when they gamble. This is why it’s so important to have a strong support network and to surround yourself with positive, healthy people. You might also benefit from therapy and joining a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous or Gambling Treatment Service Australia.

It’s common to see signs of problem gambling in yourself or someone you know. These include:

Problem gamblers often hide their gambling behaviour from others, so it can be hard to recognise if it is becoming a problem. They may try to convince others that they are simply having a good time or that their losses are just part of the game. They may also lie about how much they are spending on gambling, or hide money and assets.

Gambling is a high-risk activity, and most people will lose some of their money. It is also a highly addictive activity that can have serious consequences for health, family and work. It can even lead to depression and suicide in some cases. Public Health England estimates that problem gambling costs the UK economy £2.3 billion a year.

The most common cause of problems with gambling is financial, but other causes include poor relationship and family dynamics, a history of substance abuse, and low self-esteem. Some people may also be genetically predisposed to addiction, and certain brain structures can influence how we process reward information, control impulses, and weigh risk.

To prevent a gambling problem, it’s essential to manage money and stick to a budget. Only gamble with the money you have set aside for entertainment, and never spend more than you can afford to lose. Always stop when you hit your limit, and never chase your losses – this is called the “gambler’s fallacy,” and it will only lead to bigger losses. Keeping track of time is also essential, as it can be easy to spend more time gambling than you intended. Also, try not to take advantage of free cocktails at casinos – there’s usually a reason they give them out for free! See the Better Health Channel fact sheet ‘Gambling and your finances’ for more tips.

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