The gambling industry is a huge business – it’s estimated that the amount of money legally wagered in world lotteries and casinos exceeds $10 trillion per year. People gamble for all sorts of reasons, from the thrill of winning to socialising and escaping worries or stress. But for some, it becomes a problem. If you think your gambling is out of control, it’s important to seek help and support.
Whether it’s betting on a football match or buying a scratchcard, gambling involves choosing something to bet on – often against ‘odds’ set by the bookmakers which determine how much you could win if you won. But no one can be sure what the outcome of that event will be, because it’s down to luck.
Gambling is a complex behaviour, and people who have gambling problems may exhibit a range of symptoms, including lying to family members, downplaying or hiding their gambling activities, relying on others to fund their gambling, stealing to gamble, and continuing to gamble even when it negatively impacts on relationships, work, education, finances and personal health. These symptoms are triggered by changes in brain chemistry that occur when you take risks and experience rewards.
Psychotherapy and counselling can be helpful in dealing with gambling issues. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you understand why you feel and behave the way you do about gambling. Psychodynamic therapy can also be beneficial in helping you recognise the unconscious processes that influence your gambling behaviour.