Gambling involves placing bets on events that involve a degree of uncertainty. Whether you bet on a football match, or a scratchcard, you are making a choice based on ‘odds’ that are set by the betting company and determine how much money you could win if you were lucky enough. The odds are calculated by using actuarial methods, similar to the way in which insurance premiums are set.
Research has shown that gambling activates the same reward pathways in the brain as drugs of abuse do, and repeated exposure to gambling can cause lasting changes in those pathways, so it is important to seek help if your gambling is becoming problematic. Fortunately, many people with gambling problems are able to stop gambling for good.
Several types of therapy are used to treat compulsive gambling, including family and group therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. In addition, many people who have a gambling disorder may also be struggling with mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can both trigger gambling problems and make them worse.
If you are worried about a loved one, don’t wait to get help. Seek support from other families who have dealt with this issue, and don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. Set boundaries in managing their money – remove credit cards, have them put someone else in charge of finances, close online betting accounts, and limit the amount of time they spend at casinos.