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Recovery From Gambling Disorders


Gambling is an activity where people wager something of value – for example, money or a prize – on an outcome that is uncertain. There are many forms of gambling, including placing a bet on a football match or scratchcard, playing online slots, and buying Lotto tickets. A large percentage of the world’s population participates in some form of gambling each year. The most common reason for gambling is to try to win money, and the majority of gamblers lose their original stake. This can lead to debt, bankruptcy and family breakdown.

A small number of people are diagnosed with pathological gambling (PG), which is characterised by recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviour. Symptoms of PG include preoccupation with gambling, chasing losses and spending more and more time gambling. PG can be difficult to recognise, and some people may downplay or lie about their behaviour.

Research shows that a combination of personality traits and coexisting mental health conditions can contribute to a person developing a gambling problem. Often, gambling is used as a way to self-soothe unpleasant feelings or relieve boredom. When a person does this, their brain releases chemicals such as dopamine, which give them a temporary pleasure feeling. There are healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

If a person has developed a gambling problem, they can find help by talking to their doctor or getting in touch with support services, such as gambling helplines. They can also seek treatment and rehabilitation programs for their addiction. These are usually aimed at people who have severe or ongoing problems, and are often offered in an inpatient or residential setting.

Taking steps to control your money and gambling behaviour is an important part of recovery from a gambling disorder. It is recommended that you only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. It is also worth making a budget for entertainment expenses, and ensuring that this does not come from your essentials such as rent and bills. Keeping these financial boundaries in place can help you to stay focused on your goals and prevent relapse when you are tempted to gamble again.

It is normal to experience a relapse from time to time. The key is to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward with your recovery. Seek help from loved ones, and try to avoid situations where you might feel tempted to gamble again. There are also many other things you can do to increase your chances of staying healthy, such as maintaining a balanced diet and participating in regular exercise. In addition, you should consider seeking therapy for underlying mood disorders like depression, stress and anxiety, which can trigger or be made worse by compulsive gambling. It is also important to address any substance use issues, which are known to cause or make gambling problems worse. Changing these unhealthy habits can be difficult, but with determination and support, it is possible to overcome gambling problems.