Preventing Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that is based mostly on chance. It can be conducted with money, things of value (such as coins), or even materials used in a game (such as marbles or collectible game pieces). The objective is to win a prize. While skill can improve a player’s chances of winning, the overall outcome of any gambling activity is largely based on chance and a person’s genetic predisposition.

People can become addicted to gambling for a variety of reasons. Some may be genetically predisposed to impulsivity, and some may find that the psychological reward of gambling provides a sense of excitement and pleasure. In addition, certain mood disorders (such as depression) can both trigger compulsive gambling and be made worse by it.

Another reason for addiction to gambling is a change in the brain’s chemical signals. During prolonged gambling, the brain begins to expect a certain level of excitement and pleasure, which is similar to how a person develops a tolerance for drugs or alcohol. Once the brain starts expecting this level of excitement, the actual experience is no longer as pleasurable as it was at first.

A final reason for gambling is a desire to relieve unpleasant emotions. For example, a person might gamble to self-soothe feelings of boredom or as a way to unwind after a stressful day at work or after an argument with their spouse. However, it’s important to note that there are healthier and more effective ways of relieving unpleasant emotions, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques.

In order to help prevent gambling addiction, it’s important to set limits and create boundaries. Make a decision ahead of time how much money you are willing to spend, and don’t exceed it, regardless of whether you’re losing or winning. Also, try to avoid gambling when you’re depressed or upset; it can be difficult to make good decisions when your emotional state is so influenced by compulsive behavior. Finally, be sure to balance gambling with other enjoyable activities and don’t use credit cards to gamble. Also, avoid chasing your losses—it’s very likely that the more you invest in trying to win back lost money, the greater your losses will be. This is known as the gambler’s fallacy.