Identifying and Addressing Problems With Gambling

Gambling is an activity where people wager money on events that have a chance of occurring. It can take many forms, from playing card games or board games for small amounts of cash with friends to entering a sports betting pool with coworkers. For some, gambling is a fun and entertaining pastime, while others have serious issues with it. These issues can affect their physical and mental health, relationships and performance at work or school and even lead to debt and homelessness.

When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine — the feel-good neurotransmitter. This release is triggered when you win and can make you feel excited, which can trigger more gambling. This cycle can become a problem for some people, who start to feel compelled to gamble in order to experience the same excitement they felt when they won.

Identifying and addressing problems with gambling can help you avoid financial, family, and social damage. If you or someone you know has a gambling disorder, seek treatment with a mental health professional. Psychotherapy options include psychodynamic therapy, which focuses on unconscious processes and the impact of past behavior on present-day decisions; and group therapy, in which you meet with others with similar problems for moral support and guidance. You can also strengthen your support network by reaching out to family and friends, or finding a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.