Whether buying a lotto ticket, betting on horses or playing the pokies, gambling is a fun activity that many people enjoy from time to time. For some, however, gambling can become addictive and cause harm. If you have problems with gambling it’s important to get help. The first step is acknowledging that you have a problem, which can be difficult. Often, gambling can be used as an escape from other issues such as depression or anxiety. It’s also a common way to socialise or feel a sense of achievement.
While there are many different ways to gamble, the most popular forms include sports and horse racing betting, lottery games, online gambling, slot machines, instant scratch tickets and card games. Some people even wager on events such as elections and reality shows.
Many factors can contribute to problematic gambling, including family history, a predisposition towards thrill-seeking behaviours and impulse control, genetics and brain regions that affect decision making. Cultural influences can also play a role in how you view gambling and the risk-taking associated with it.
Changing your behaviour can be challenging, but it’s possible to break the cycle of harmful gambling. Talking therapy can be helpful in identifying the causes of your problem and developing strategies to change your gambling habits. This can be done individually or in group settings, and may involve cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy that looks at your beliefs around gambling, such as the belief that certain rituals will bring you luck or that you are due for a big win.