How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction

Gambling occurs when a person wagers something of value on an event that has the potential to produce a winning outcome. It is often a fun activity with friends, but it can also harm health and relationships, damage work or school performance, put people into debt or even cause suicide. The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that there is one.

Gambling can happen in casinos, racetracks, video poker machines, bingo, and on the Internet. It can also occur at home when friends or family play games like poker, card games, and board games such as Pogs and Magic: The Gathering with a monetary prize or other collectibles as stakes.

Many people gamble because they enjoy the feeling of euphoria that they experience when they win, which is caused by changes in brain chemistry. Others do it as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or loneliness, or to socialize.

People who are unable to control their gambling can find support in local community centers and peer groups, such as Gamtalk and the National Problem Gambling Helpline. Mental health counseling can help people understand their gambling problems and think about how they might change them. There are no FDA-approved medications for treating gambling disorders, but some drugs may be used to treat co-occurring mood problems. BetterHelp is an online therapy service that matches individuals with licensed, accredited therapists who specialize in depression, anxiety, and relationship issues, including those that are affected by gambling. Take a free assessment and get matched with a counselor in as little as 48 hours.