People gamble for many reasons – the thrill of winning, to socialise or to escape their worries and stress. But gambling can become a problem for some people and there is help available. People should only ever gamble with money they can afford to lose and should never bet more than they can afford to spend. If they are spending money on gambling that is affecting their budget for bills and rent, this may be a sign of a problem.
It is important to remember that all forms of gambling involve risk. There is also no guarantee that you will win a prize. This is because gambling involves betting something of value on a random event, such as a football match or scratchcard. The amount that you can win is based on the ‘odds’ set by the betting company, which are based on actuarial data.
Gambling can cause serious harm if it is not controlled. This is because it can affect your finances, health and relationships. It can also lead to depression and even suicide. People with gambling problems often experience shame and guilt, and they may hide their gambling from family members and therapists. They also tend to lie about how much they are spending and how often they gamble.
If you are having a problem with gambling, it’s important to talk to your doctor about getting help. They can refer you for therapy, which is usually cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps you change how you think and feel about gambling. It can help you realise that gambling is not healthy and that there are better ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques.
There is a strong link between gambling and suicide, so you should always seek help if you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide. You can get support in many different places, including the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or via online chat. You can also visit a local Samaritans branch or go to your GP, who will be able to help you find the right support for you.
Gambling can trigger huge surges of dopamine, the reward chemical in the brain, but these surges are a false pleasure. They do not encourage you to do the things that you need to survive, like eating and working, and can lead to compulsive behaviour. Over time, this can alter your brain chemistry and you need to gamble more and more to experience the same pleasure. It can also make you more impulsive and increase your craving for substances like alcohol and drugs.
Longitudinal research on gambling is becoming more common. This involves following a group of people over time to see how they gamble and what factors influence their gambling habits. This type of study is more helpful than a single case study as it allows you to compare responses from people at different times. However, it can be difficult to carry out longitudinal studies as they are expensive and time consuming.