Breaking the Gambling Cycle

Gambling is the wagering of something of value, usually money or items of personal value, on an event with a uncertain outcome. It is a form of entertainment and may be regulated in some jurisdictions. Common types of gambling include: casinos (brick-and-mortar and online), lottery, sports betting and horse racing. It can also involve wagering with materials that have no monetary value, such as marbles or collectable trading card games like Magic: The Gathering.

The first step to breaking the cycle of compulsive gambling is admitting you have a problem. Then, seek help from a counselor. There are many ways to do this: Seek support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Get counseling or medication to help manage your symptoms. Exercise regularly. Studies have shown that physical activity can reduce urges to gamble.

Take control of your finances. Set limits on the amount of money you will be spending each month. Make your bank account the primary one in charge of payments, close your online betting accounts, and only keep a small amount of cash on you at all times. These steps will prevent you from overspending and enabling your urge to gamble to control you.

If you are a compulsive gambler, you should also seek treatment for any underlying mood disorders that can contribute to your gambling problems, such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse. These conditions can worsen your gambling and cause other health issues.

A person with a gambling disorder often loses control of his or her financial, work, family or social life because of the addiction. The person is preoccupied with gambling and frequently has thoughts of gambling, reliving past gambling experiences or planning future adventures. The person lies to conceal the extent of his or her involvement with gambling and may even jeopardize relationships, employment or educational or career opportunities in order to gamble.

People who have a gambling problem can be from any economic background, social or cultural group and any age, but some people are at greater risk than others. Genetics, environment and medical history may all play a role in the development of problem gambling. Children and teenagers are also at a higher risk than adults. Problem gambling affects men and women equally, although men are more likely to develop a gambling addiction.