How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


A gambling addiction can have serious consequences, affecting your health and finances. You may also be putting yourself or your loved ones at risk. If you are concerned about gambling, we encourage you to seek help and support. You can contact a Better Health Channel counsellor, who is available 24/7 and is free, confidential and anonymous.

Gambling involves placing something of value on a random event with the intent to win something else of value. It includes activities such as betting on sports events, buying lottery tickets or playing scratchcards. It’s a great way to pass the time and can give you a rush of excitement when your luck changes. However, it’s important to remember that there is a difference between recreational and problem gambling.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a mental health condition that affects between 0.4% and 1.6% of the population. Those with PG display recurrent and persistent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. Those with PG often start gambling in early adulthood and are more likely to engage in strategic, face-to-face forms of gambling such as poker or blackjack, as opposed to nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling like slot machines or bingo.

Although some people enjoy gambling as a social activity, others find it difficult to control their gambling behavior and become addicted. Those who have a gambling disorder are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than those without a gambling problem. They also tend to have poorer school and employment outcomes, and are more likely to take risks to finance their gambling activity, including illegal actions or jeopardizing relationships and jobs.

Despite its popularity, very little is known about the prevalence of gambling in the general population or the factors that influence its development. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine how many people have a gambling problem and the characteristics of those who develop one. However, these types of studies are challenging to conduct due to numerous barriers, including funding, staffing and logistical issues. Moreover, longitudinal research in gambling is confounded by aging and period effects, making it even more difficult to draw reliable conclusions.

If you have concerns about gambling, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Getting professional help is the best way to overcome a gambling addiction and stop it from having a negative impact on your life. The first step is to strengthen your support network. This can include your family and friends, or you can try to find new hobbies or interests. It’s also a good idea to keep your credit cards and bank accounts away from you, or have someone else manage them for you. Also, be sure to set limits on how much money you can gamble with. And never chase your losses – thinking you will get lucky again and recoup your lost money is a gamble in itself. It is called the gambler’s fallacy and is a common mistake that leads to bigger and more losses.