Gambling Disorder – What is Gambling and How Can it Be Treated?


Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event – whether it’s a lottery ticket, a scratchcard, or a bet on the football or horse races – in order to win a prize. The result is usually determined by chance, with instances of strategy discounted, but the gambler can still lose money if they’re not careful.

A problem gambling addiction can damage family relationships and finances. It can also lead to suicidal thoughts, so if you’re concerned about someone, call 999 or visit A&E immediately. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help them stop gambling.

There’s no cure for gambling disorder, but treatment can help people overcome it. This can include group therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Treatment is also available through inpatient and residential programs.

Research is improving, but longitudinal studies are difficult to mount. They require large budgets, are susceptible to sample attrition and aging effects, and often confuse behavioural changes with a change in the environment.

Many people gamble to self-soothe unpleasant feelings or relieve boredom, such as after a stressful day at work, a row with their partner, or when they feel lonely. However, there are healthier and more effective ways to do this, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. If you’re worried about your mental health, speak to your GP or see the Mind website for more information. If you’re struggling with debt, contact StepChange for free and confidential advice.

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