Gambling is a bit like Marmite; it divides people and many governments don’t have a great deal of time for it. However, whether you love it or hate it there is no denying that gambling boosts the economy and is very much a part of the modern world. The question of whether gambling should be legalised is a complicated one and I would argue that it’s not so much the activity itself but how people are treated during it that poses the biggest dangers. When laws prohibit or limit gambling, this simply drives it underground and into the hands of criminals – and that’s where most of the harms happen.
The first step to stopping a gambling problem is seeking professional help. Several types of psychotherapy are available and a therapist will work with you to identify unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors and change them. It may also be helpful to address any mood disorders that are contributing to the problem – depression, anxiety and substance abuse can all make gambling worse or worsen compulsive gambling.
Gambling can take many forms and can be done in places as diverse as casinos, racetracks, sports stadiums and even on the internet. Usually, people gamble with money but it can be done with materials that have value but are not real cash, such as marbles or collectible game pieces (like Pogs or Magic: The Gathering). The most common types of gambling are lotteries, races and scratchcards.
There are some basic rules to gambling that should be observed by all players. The most important rule is not to gamble with more money than you can afford to lose. In addition, never borrow money to gamble and never use your credit card to place a wager. It is also important to set aside some time away from gambling so you can focus on other activities and recharge your batteries.
If you have a loved one with a gambling addiction, it is important to seek support and help for both of you. Seek family therapy and marriage, career and credit counseling to work through the issues that are contributing to the gambling problem. It is also helpful to establish boundaries in managing money and to prevent the person from gambling, such as closing online betting accounts and putting someone else in charge of your finances.
If you are thinking about trying to overcome your gambling problem, be aware that it will not be easy. You may fall back into old habits from time to time, but it is important to stick with your plan and to continue your journey towards recovery. The most effective treatment programs involve a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The FDA has not approved any medications to treat gambling disorder, but a number of different psychotherapies are available. Talk to your doctor about which psychotherapy might be right for you. They will be able to recommend a therapist and set up an appointment.