How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves placing something of value at risk on an event with an element of chance in the hope of winning a prize. It can take many forms, including casino games, sports betting, lottery tickets, bingo, cards, slots, video poker, and instant scratch-off tickets. While some people gamble responsibly, others become hooked on the thrill of taking a risk and winning big. For some, gambling is a serious problem that can lead to financial ruin and jeopardize relationships.

A person who is addicted to gambling may:

(1) spend more time and money on gambling than he or she can afford; (2) lie to family members, therapists, or employers to conceal the extent of his or her involvement in gambling; (3) have significant losses that result in a desperate financial situation; and (4) commit illegal acts (e.g., forgery, fraud, embezzlement) to finance gambling. Psychiatric interventions for pathological gambling have had varying degrees of effectiveness. This is likely due to different conceptualizations of the etiology of this disorder.

The first step to overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that you have one. Although this can be a hard step, it is important to remember that many people have overcome their addictions and rebuilt their lives. It takes tremendous strength and courage to admit that you have a problem, especially if you have lost a lot of money or strained or broken relationships as a result of your habit. Fortunately, help is available for those who are willing to accept it.