Recognising a Gambling Disorder

Gambling involves betting or staking something of value on an event that is random or uncertain in order to win a prize. This activity is a common way for people to relax and socialise with others, but some people may develop an addiction that affects their health, family, career and relationships.

It can be difficult to recognise a gambling problem, and many people try to hide their gambling or downplay its effects on their lives. However, if you find yourself spending more money than you can afford to lose, hiding gambling habits from friends and family or borrowing money to fund your gambling habit, it’s important to seek help.

Some people can recover from a gambling disorder on their own, but others require professional treatment. Psychotherapy, which is a general term for a range of treatment techniques, can help to reduce addictive tendencies and improve mood. Psychotherapy is usually carried out by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker. There are also support groups for those with gambling disorders, and some people find that physical exercise can help them to control their urges.

Keeping a budget for how much you are willing to spend while gambling is a good way to stay in control of your spending and limit the damage caused by your gambles. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a casino, particularly one that does not have windows or clocks, so setting an alarm for when you are supposed to stop gambling can help you keep track of time and avoid spending more than you can afford to lose. It is also a good idea to only play games that you are familiar with, as this will help you have a more enjoyable experience and prevent you from making mistakes that could cost you money.

Another important thing to remember is to never chase your losses, as this will only make you feel worse and increase the chances of a further loss. The brain releases dopamine when you win, which is the same neurotransmitter that is released when you eat a delicious meal or spend time with a loved one, and this can lead you to think that you are due for a big win and will be able to recoup your losses if you keep gambling. This is known as the gambler’s fallacy and it can be very dangerous.

It is also important to remember that gambling is not always about luck; the house has a built-in advantage, so it is more likely that you will lose than win. If you are a good poker player, then you will have a better chance of winning by playing against other people, rather than the machines, as these have a lower house edge. You should also be sure to tip your dealer regularly, either by handing them a chip or placing it on the table for them, and remember that cocktail waitresses work hard for tips, so make sure you give them some!