How to Stop Gambling

Whether you’re in the twinkly casinos of Las Vegas or rolling dice in your kitchen, gambling is an activity that involves risking something valuable on an uncertain outcome. People gamble for many reasons, including to relieve stress, change their mood, socialize with friends or to win money. For some, gambling becomes an addiction that causes serious financial problems, strained relationships and even mental health issues like depression. In the past, the psychiatric community has viewed pathological gambling as an impulse control disorder, like kleptomania and pyromania, but in recent years it’s been moved to the Addictions chapter of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The most important step toward treating a gambling problem is acknowledging that you have one. This is often hard to do, especially if you’ve lost money or ruined a relationship because of your gambling. However, many others have been through the same thing and were able to break their addictions and rebuild their lives.

It’s also a good idea to get treatment for any underlying mood disorders that may be contributing to your compulsive gambling. Depression, anxiety and substance abuse can all trigger or make gambling problems worse. Treatment for these conditions may include therapy and medication.

Gambling takes place in a variety of settings, from buying lottery tickets and betting small amounts on sports events to sophisticated casino gaming. Some people gamble professionally and others do it as a pastime. It’s also common for people to gamble on the Internet. Gambling is risky because it’s impossible to know if you will win or lose, but some people become hooked on the rush of the game and the desire to feel in control.

When you’re trying to quit gambling, it’s a good idea to limit your access to resources like websites and apps, and avoid using credit cards to gamble. Additionally, it’s helpful to spend time with friends and family outside of the gambling environment. If you’re still struggling to control your gambling, seek support from a peer group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step program is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and provides guidance from those who have successfully remained free of gambling addiction.

Another way to reduce your risk of gambling is to set a time limit and leave once you reach it, whether you’re winning or losing. This can help you avoid the temptation to keep gambling and potentially lose more money, and it will also prevent you from chasing losses in the hopes that you’ll eventually win back your lost funds. This is called the “gambler’s fallacy” and is a common trap that many people fall into.