How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


Gambling is a recreational activity where people risk money or other items of value in the hope of winning. It is a widespread activity that can be found in casinos, online, and in other locations. Some examples of gambling include purchasing lottery tickets, playing card games for money, and betting on sports events. Gambling can also take place with items that have a monetary value but are not money, such as marbles, pogs (small discs), Magic: The Gathering cards, and collectible game pieces. Regardless of the object used, gambling always involves three elements: consideration, risk, and a prize.

Some forms of gambling are based on skill, such as poker and blackjack, where knowledge of strategy can improve the chances of winning. However, some forms of gambling are purely random and do not involve any use of skill (such as a scratch-off ticket). The American Psychiatric Association defines pathological gambling as an impulse control disorder characterized by an overwhelming urge to gamble that is out of control and interferes with a person’s life and relationships. This definition reflects the broad range of problems associated with this activity and the fact that it can lead to other psychiatric disorders such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

A common misconception is that people who have gambling problems must be alcoholics or drug users, but this is not the case. Almost anyone who has the desire and ability to gamble can develop an addiction. A variety of factors contribute to a person’s vulnerability to gambling problems, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

Many people who struggle with gambling do not realize they have a problem. They may feel compelled to gamble secretly and lie about their gambling activities, or they may spend more and more money trying to win back what they have lost. They often have difficulty controlling their gambling and may end up accumulating debts or even going bankrupt.

The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have one. It takes tremendous strength and courage to admit that you have a problem, especially if you’ve lost large amounts of money or strained or broken your relationships as a result of your gambling. But there is help available. BetterHelp is an online therapy service that can match you with a licensed, accredited therapist who can help you break your gambling habit and rebuild your life. Get started with a free assessment today.