Problem gambling has become more accessible and acceptable than ever before. Around four in five Americans have gambled at least once in their lives, and every state has some form of legalized gambling. These days, you can play your favorite games from the comfort of your home, thanks to the Internet and mobile phone technology. Sadly, two million people in the U.S. suffer from gambling addiction and twenty million more have a gambling problem. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with the negative effects of gambling.
Counseling can help a person understand and deal with the negative emotional effects of gambling. While there are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, certain medications can alleviate the symptoms of depression or anxiety that contribute to the addiction. Family and friends can also be a big help in recovery, but the final decision to stop gambling should always be yours alone. And remember, you can always seek treatment for a mental health condition like bipolar disorder or depression, if that’s what you need.
Another type of gambling is poker. Poker has become immensely popular over the last decade or so, aided by the proliferation of poker venues on the Internet. Internet gambling is also increasing, with the rise of betting exchanges. Internet Web sites offer a variety of games and collect a small percentage of the winnings from each wager. These online gambling activities have the potential to lead to addiction and increased criminal activity. It’s important to note that these activities are legal in many countries.
Gambling and drugs alter brain circuitry in similar ways. While gambling and drugs alter the brain’s reward circuitry, they have very different causes. In substance addiction, drug users must take stronger and more potent doses to experience a high, while compulsive gamblers must take increasingly risky bets to get the same high. Both groups also suffer withdrawal symptoms when separated from the chemicals and thrills they’ve been seeking.
Responsible gambling means calculating the odds and knowing when to quit. The goal of responsible gambling is to win, but you should also expect to lose money. Consider gambling as a necessary expense and avoid assuming that it will increase your income. Understanding why you gamble can help you change your behavior and limit your financial losses. Once you’ve learned to control your behavior, you’ll never want to gamble again. The next time you feel like losing your money, think about what factors contributed to your decision.
If you’re feeling desperate, you may be suffering from a gambling addiction. It’s hard to break a gambling addiction because you can’t control your urges. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you overcome your gambling habit. Counselling sessions are confidential and free, and available around the clock. It’s never too late to seek help. It’s important to understand the consequences of your gambling habits, and to take steps to overcome them.