Gambling As an Addiction


Gambling involves risking something of value on an event with a chance of winning money. It can range from buying a lottery ticket to placing a bet on a football match. People who gamble may do so to escape from everyday problems, to boost their self-esteem or as a form of entertainment. But for some, gambling becomes an addiction that can harm their health and relationships, impoverish families, cause bankruptcy and even suicide.

Problem gambling affects people from all walks of life. It can be found among rich and poor, young and old, in small towns and big cities. It can be triggered by any source of excitement, whether it is the promise of riches or the dream of a better future. It can also be used as an excuse to avoid dealing with difficult emotions, such as depression and anxiety. It is estimated that more than 400 suicides are related to gambling each year.

Research has shown that the brain’s reward system can be hijacked by gambling. As more money is lost, the individual becomes more dependent on the reward system and less able to control their spending. This explains why many problem gamblers feel they can’t stop gambling, even when it is costing them money. They are unable to see the harm their behaviour is doing to themselves and those around them.

The understanding of the adverse consequences of gambling has undergone a revolution in recent years. It is now recognised that there are psychological rather than social or economic reasons for someone developing a gambling problem. The change in perspective is similar to that which has occurred with alcoholism. It is reflected in, and stimulated by, the changing clinical classification and description of pathological gambling in successive editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

One of the keys to controlling gambling is establishing a budget for how much you can afford to spend on a game. It is important to stick to the limit, and to never use credit cards to fund your gambling activities. It is also a good idea to make a habit of setting aside a set amount of disposable income each week for gambling, and to leave the table when you have reached your limit, regardless of whether you are winning or losing. Another important tip is to always take regular breaks when gambling online, and to avoid gambling in the same room as a television or other distractions.

It is also important to establish a healthy balance between gambling and other activities in your life. You should not allow it to interfere with your relationships or work performance. It is also a good idea to avoid gambling when you are upset or stressed, as it is likely to lead to bad decisions. In addition, it is a good idea to avoid playing games that have high house edges, and to try to employ betting strategies to maximise your chances of success. It is also a good idea to set a timer for yourself when gambling, as this will help you to stay in control.