Whether it’s placing a Lotto bet, buying a scratch-off ticket or using the pokies, most people gamble at some stage. Often, the more someone gambles, the harder it is to stop. For those with a gambling problem, this can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what gambling is and how it works, as well as the factors that may provoke problematic gambling behaviour. We’ll also discuss some tips for safer gambling and ways to address the issue if you find yourself engaging in unhealthy habits.
Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value, where instances of strategy are discounted. The activity can be carried out in many forms, including casino games such as roulette, baccarat, blackjack and poker, which are played in brick-and-mortar or online casinos; betting on sports events such as horse and greyhound races, football accumulators and elections; lottery tickets and instant scratch cards; and speculation.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, including the adrenaline rush, the chance to win big money and socialising with friends. However, gambling can become a serious problem when it starts to interfere with everyday life and lead to behavioural changes. If you have a gambling problem, there are many options available to help you overcome it, including treatment and self-help.
A common symptom of gambling addiction is an inability to control impulses, which can cause you to place excessive bets or risk more money than you can afford to lose. Other symptoms may include lying, stealing or borrowing money to fund your gambling habit. Problem gambling can also have a negative impact on your family, work and health.
Research into the psychological and neurological effects of gambling has found that it triggers a reward response in the brain, similar to other addictive behaviours. This reward response is triggered by the release of dopamine, which makes you feel excited and happy. In addition, the more you gamble, the more dopamine is released. This can lead to a vicious cycle as you try to make up for past losses by gambling more and more, increasing your chances of a big win.
If you are concerned about gambling, it’s important to set limits and stick to them. Ensure that you only gamble for fun and never use gambling to make money. Gamble with cash and don’t use credit. Set a time limit for how long you want to spend gambling and leave when you reach that limit, regardless of whether you are winning or losing. Balance your gambling with other activities and don’t gamble when you are depressed or upset. Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. In addition, seek treatment for any underlying mood disorders that may be contributing to your gambling problems.