Gambling is a risky activity where you put something of value, such as money or other items, on an event with unpredictable outcomes. It is considered a form of entertainment and can be fun, but it can also cause harm. If you are worried that gambling is causing problems in your life, there are ways to change it. Talking to a friend or professional counsellor may help. Setting both short-term and long-term goals can be a useful way to stay focused on changing your behaviour. Getting support for other mental health conditions can be helpful, too. Changing the environment in which you gamble can also be important. Visiting a different casino, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or engaging in other recreational activities can be a good way to break the habit.
Gambling affects the reward center in your brain, and your body releases a chemical called dopamine when you win or receive positive feedback. This can cause you to continue gambling even when it’s causing problems, and it can be hard to stop because of the rewarding feelings that come with it. If you’re having trouble overcoming your addiction to gambling, try using healthier rewards to feel good, such as exercising, eating healthy foods, spending time with loved ones, or relaxing.
It’s important to understand why you gamble and whether it’s causing you harm before making any changes. If you’re not sure what’s causing your problem, seek advice from a doctor or psychologist, or contact gambling help services. The Australian government has established national hotlines and websites for people who have gambling issues.
You should only gamble with disposable income and not money you need for other purposes, such as paying bills or rent. You should also set a budget for gambling and stick to it. Only gamble with money you can afford to lose and never use credit cards or borrow to gamble. Avoid chasing losses – this usually leads to bigger losses.
A common sign that you have a problem with gambling is hiding your behaviour from family and friends, lying to them about your gambling, or refusing to admit that you’re having trouble. Other signs include avoiding social events where there are gambling venues, relying on other people to fund your gambling, or ignoring work and other important responsibilities while you’re gambling.
If you are concerned that a family member has a gambling problem, reach out for help. You can find support from local gambling help services, GPs and psychologists, and peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Psychotherapy is a type of treatment that can help you change your unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviors related to gambling. It involves talking with a therapist who is trained in this area. There are several types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal therapy. You can also try mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques. These strategies can help you manage stress and improve your relationships. Alternatively, you can join a group for people who have problems with gambling such as Gamblers Anonymous or Betting Help.