Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is determined by chance, where instances of strategy are discounted. It requires three elements to be present – consideration, risk and a prize.
Identifying a gambling problem is often difficult because of the shame and guilt associated with it, especially when a person is losing money or relationships are being affected. The first step to dealing with a gambling addiction is to recognise that there is a problem and to seek help. Counselling can help people understand the nature of gambling and how it affects them and their families, as well as consider options and solve problems. Medications are not recommended as a treatment for gambling disorders, although some may be useful in treating co-occurring mood disorders such as depression.
It’s also important to reduce the risks of gambling, particularly financial risk factors such as avoiding credit cards and using debit cards, not carrying large amounts of cash around and not visiting a casino or betting shop regularly. It’s a good idea to try to find alternative recreational activities and hobbies that can replace the desire to gamble. Trying to stop gambling isn’t easy, and it’s not uncommon for people to experience a relapse from time to time. However, it’s important to remember that a relapse doesn’t mean that you should give up or that you haven’t succeeded in stopping the behaviours.
Family members can help by providing support and by making sure that the gambler’s finances are kept separate from those of other family members. They can also help by not allowing the gambler to go out and spend money on a whim or by refusing to be lured into a gambling venue with free cocktails or other offers.