Helping Someone With a Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome. The event can be an instantaneous outcome, such as a roll of dice or a spin of a roulette wheel, but long-term events are also common, such as the outcome of a football game or horse race. Regardless of the time frame, the three essential elements of gambling are consideration (amount wagered), risk and a prize. The amount wagered is known as the “stakes.” The risk is that you could lose more than you invested. The prize is whatever you win if you win.

A number of factors can contribute to the development of a gambling addiction, including genetic predisposition, brain structure and coexisting mental health conditions. Biologically, gamblers may have an underactive brain reward system and can have trouble processing and controlling impulses. Personality traits like impulsivity and boredom susceptibility can also play a role in the development of a gambling addiction. Culture can also play a role in people’s views of gambling and how they perceive the risk involved.

Regardless of the cause, there are a few things you can do to help someone with a gambling addiction. One is to strengthen your own support network. You can do this by reaching out to family and friends or by joining a new social group that does not involve gambling, such as a book club, sports team or volunteer project. You can also try a peer support program, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous and includes finding a sponsor.

Another thing to do is to educate yourself on gambling. This will help you understand the risks and what is happening in a person’s brain when they are gambling. You can also find out more about the reasons why people gamble, which can help you to understand why a loved one might be hooked. These include social reasons, financial rewards, the desire to replicate an early big win, a poor understanding of random events and using gambling as an escape from boredom or stress.

If you know why your loved one is gambling, it can make it harder for you to get angry with them for making poor decisions. However, you should remember that they didn’t choose to become addicted to gambling and they likely don’t realise that they are relying on the false hope of an early win to stay in the habit. This is called the gambler’s fallacy. It is the mistaken belief that if an event has not happened recently, it will be more likely to happen in the future. This is not true.