Gambling is only for the house – effects on individuals and how to stop gambling

Gambling is only for the house – effects on individuals and how to stop gambling

Gambling addiction is a complex psychological problem that can have serious consequences for the individual and their loved ones. Many people continue to gamble even when they know they cannot win because of the psychological reward system that gambling activates in the brain. The excitement of the prospect of winning, the thrill of taking risks and the temporary relief from stress or negative emotions can all contribute to a person’s gambling addiction.

There are various factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of gambling addiction. One of the most important factors is the reinforcement programme that gambling provides. When a person gambles, they may win or lose, but the intermittent reinforcement that comes with occasional wins or near misses can keep them coming back for more, even if they are losing more than they win.

Another factor contributing to gambling addiction is distorted thought patterns that develop over time. Gamblers may begin to believe that they have special skills or strategies that will help them win, or they may focus on past wins and ignore past losses. They may also engage in magical thinking, such as believing that their luck will change if they wear a certain outfit or sit in a certain chair.

The gambler’s emotional state can also play a role in their continued gambling. Many people gamble as a way to escape negative emotions or stress. The temporary relief that comes with gambling can create a cycle of seeking relief through gambling, which can lead to addiction.

To stop gambling, it is important to understand the root causes of addiction and to seek professional help. Treatment for gambling addiction can include therapy, medication and support groups. Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help individuals identify and change distorted thought patterns, while medication can help with co-occurring mental health conditions that may contribute to addiction.

Support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can provide a sense of community and help individuals to remain accountable for their behaviour. It is also important to identify and address any underlying emotional issues or stressors that may be contributing to addiction.

In addition to seeking professional help, individuals can take steps to limit their exposure to gambling. This may include avoiding gambling venues such as casinos or online gambling sites. It can also include setting financial and time limits on gambling activities.

Breaking the cycle of gambling addiction is not easy, but it is possible with the right support and resources. It is important to remember that gambling addiction is a treatable condition and there is no shame in seeking help. With the right tools and support, individuals can overcome their addiction and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Gambling addiction treatment

Overcoming a gambling problem is never easy and seeking professional treatment doesn’t mean that you’re weak in some way or can’t handle your problems. But it’s important to remember that every gambler is unique so you need a recovery program tailored specifically to your needs and situation. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about different treatment options, including:

Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These are aimed at those with severe gambling addiction who are unable to avoid gambling without round-the-clock support.

Treatment for underlying conditions contributing to your compulsive gambling, including substance abuse or mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or ADHD. This could include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Problem gambling can sometimes be a symptom of bipolar disorder, so your doctor or therapist may need to rule this out before making a diagnosis.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT for gambling addiction focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as rationalizations and false beliefs. It can also teach you how to fight gambling urges and solve financial, work, and relationship problems caused by problem gambling. Therapy can provide you with the tools for coping with your addiction that will last a lifetime.

Family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling. These can help you work through the specific issues that have been created by your problem gambling and lay the foundation for repairing your relationships and finances.

How to help someone stop gambling

If your loved one has a gambling problem, you likely have many conflicting emotions. You may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep your loved one from gambling or having to cover for them. At the same time, you might be furious at your loved one for gambling again and tired of trying to keep up the charade. Your loved one may have borrowed or even stolen money with no way to pay it back. They may have sold family possessions or run up huge debts on joint credit cards.

While compulsive and problem gamblers need the support of their family and friends to help them in their struggle to stop gambling, the decision to quit has to be theirs. As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is seeing the effects, you cannot make someone stop gambling. However, you can encourage them to seek help, support them in their efforts, protect yourself, and take any talk of suicide seriously.

Preventing suicide in problem gamblers

When faced with the consequences of their actions, problem gamblers can suffer a crushing drop in self-esteem. This is one reason why there is a high rate of suicide among compulsive gamblers.

If you suspect your loved one is feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Befrienders Worldwide to find a suicide helpline in your country.

Four tips for family members:

  1. Start by helping yourself. You have a right to protect yourself emotionally and financially. Don’t blame yourself for the gambler’s problems or let his or her addiction dominate your life. Ignoring your own needs can be a recipe for burnout.
  2. Don’t go it alone. It can feel so overwhelming coping with a loved one’s gambling addiction that it may seem easier to rationalize their requests “this one last time.” Or you might feel ashamed, feeling like you are the only one who has problems like this. Reaching out for support will make you realize that many families have struggled with this problem.
  3. Set boundaries in managing money. To ensure the gambler stays accountable and to prevent relapse, consider taking over the family finances. However, this does not mean you are responsible for micromanaging the problem gambler’s impulses to gamble. Your first responsibilities are to ensure that your own finances and credit are not at risk.
  4. Consider how you will handle requests for money. Problem gamblers often become very good at asking for money, either directly or indirectly. They may use pleading, manipulation, or even threats to get it. It takes practice to ensure you are not enabling your loved one’s gambling addiction.


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