How to Prevent a Gambling Problem

Gambling is the act of risking something of value in the hope of winning something of equal or greater value. While many people enjoy gambling for fun, some individuals develop a compulsive disorder. This disorder is characterized by urges to gamble and losses that cause distress or impairment. Problem gambling can lead to other problems, such as financial hardship and family conflict. There are several ways to get help for a gambling problem.

While most people think of casinos and lotteries when they think of gambling, many activities that involve a chance of winning or losing money could be considered gambling. These include fantasy leagues, sports betting, online poker and DIY investing. Likewise, opening loot boxes in video games can also be considered gambling. The research in this area is limited, and researchers are still trying to understand why some people become addicted to these activities.

In addition to being a form of entertainment, gambling can serve as an escape from stressful or unpleasant life events. This may be why people who experience mood disorders are especially vulnerable to developing a gambling addiction. Depression, anxiety and stress are common in people who have a gambling problem, and these conditions can make it harder to resist the lure of gambling.

The most important thing to remember when trying to quit gambling is that it is a game of chance. While some people have more of a knack for winning than others, most of the time the outcome of a particular gambling event is determined by chance. This is why it is so important to set limits when gambling and not place any expectations on the outcome of a particular event.

Another way to prevent a gambling problem is to find healthy ways to relieve unpleasant emotions and boredom. Instead of turning to gambling, try spending time with friends who don’t gamble or taking up a new hobby. It is also helpful to seek treatment for any underlying mood disorders that are making you feel compelled to gamble, as this can be an effective way to address the issue.

While some researchers have found that impulsiveness is a key factor in gambling, it’s not clear whether other dimensions of impulse control — such as sensation- and novelty-seeking, arousal and negative emotionality — are linked to the onset and progression of gambling behaviors. Regardless, there is consensus that gambling involves impulsiveness.

To combat a gambling habit, it’s important to identify and avoid triggers. This can be as simple as changing your route to and from work if it goes past a casino, or refusing to watch sports when you know you’ll be tempted to place a bet. It’s also helpful to practice identifying and challenging unhealthy thought patterns that can lead to compulsive gambling, such as the illusion of control and the gambler’s fallacy. Speak to a professional for additional tips, including local referral resources for gambling counselors and intensive treatment programs.