Gambling is an activity in which people risk something of value (usually money) on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It can be done in a variety of ways, including betting on sporting events, playing games like poker and roulette, buying lottery tickets, or even putting money into slot machines. While some people can stop themselves from gambling after a few rounds, others become addicted to the practice. Those who struggle with gambling often find that it affects their work, health, and personal relationships, and may even end up in debt or homeless. Fortunately, there are many treatments for gambling addiction and there are also organisations that can help you break free from the habit.
The Big Step
For most people, the hardest step in breaking a gambling addiction is admitting that they have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage, especially if you have lost a lot of money or suffered strained or broken relationships as a result. However, there are many organisations and charities that can provide support and help you take back control of your life. One of these is Sporting Chance, a clinic run by former England footballer Tony Adams to help professional athletes overcome gambling problems. Other groups include The Big Step, which helps people with gambling-related mental health issues and The Recovery Institute, a UK charity that provides counselling, therapy, and education to gamblers.
The good news is that it’s possible to overcome a gambling addiction, even if you have spent a fortune on games or lost your home. Many people have found success through the help of therapy, which is offered by a range of private and NHS providers, such as The Recovery Institute and Addiction Treatment Services. The key is to acknowledge that you have a problem, and accept that it is damaging your lives.
How Does Gambling Affect the Brain?
When you gamble, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel happy and excited. This is why you feel the urge to keep playing, even when you’re losing. However, as your brain gets used to the feeling of dopamine, it begins to expect it and won’t feel as happy when you don’t get it. This is known as partial reinforcement, and it can lead to a vicious cycle of gambling addiction.
Using an app like The Big Step can help you break the cycle by connecting you with a trained therapist who will be able to talk through your thoughts and feelings with you. You can then start to learn the skills you need to overcome your gambling habit and rebuild your life.
The negative social impacts of gambling can be categorized into three classes: personal, interpersonal, and society/community level. Personal and interpersonal impacts affect the gamblers themselves, while societal and community level externalities are costs or benefits that aggregate to a societal real wealth and benefit everyone. These can include general costs, costs related to problem gambling, and long-term costs or benefits.