Gambling Addiction – Taking the First Step Toward Recovery


Whether playing the slots, rolling the dice or placing a bet on a horse race, gambling involves risking something of value in exchange for the chance of winning a prize. It can take place in a variety of settings, from casinos to gas stations, church halls and sporting events. It’s often illegal, but the desire to gamble is universal. It’s also common to feel a rush when gambling, and it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of hitting it big.

It’s important to understand the difference between normal and problem gambling to protect yourself from putting your finances at risk. A good rule of thumb is to only ever gamble with disposable income and never use money that you need for bills or rent. Gambling is not only a form of entertainment but can be addictive and cause serious problems with your health and relationships.

A key component of gambling is the element of risk and uncertainty, regardless of how skillful a player may be at a game. Whether betting on a football match or scratchcard, the outcome of the event is determined by the randomness of chance. While skills like knowing the players’ strengths and weaknesses, or understanding the horses and jockeys, can improve chances of winning, the result is still unpredictable.

Historically, people who engaged in gambling were considered immoral and had a bad reputation. But the way we view gambling has changed. People who experience negative effects from gambling are now seen as having psychological problems, and their behavior is viewed as similar to substance abuse. This shift has been reflected or stimulated by the changing clinical understanding of pathological gambling in the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (called DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

In order to classify an activity as gambling, the following criteria must be met:

Taking the first step toward recovery.

The best way to battle gambling addiction is to build a strong support network and spend time away from the casino or online gaming sites. Taking a break can help you regain focus and make it easier to stay away from the games. Having friends who can offer advice and encouragement is important, so consider making new acquaintances through book clubs or sports teams, enrolling in an education course or volunteering for a worthy cause. You can also join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. They offer phone and online chat services to connect members with local resources, as well as moderated group support chats. Lastly, it’s also important to strengthen your emotional and cognitive abilities by finding hobbies that don’t involve gambling, such as painting, art or yoga. Using these skills will help you manage your emotions when you are confronted with the temptation to gamble. You can also try a meditation app, such as Calm or Headspace, which are free to download and available on most devices.