Getting Help For Gambling Problems


Gambling involves risking something of value – such as money or possessions – for a chance to win something else of value. It can be very addictive and people who struggle with compulsive gambling may be at risk of harming themselves, others and their finances and relationships.

Problem gambling can damage health, relationships and work or study performance, lead to debt and even homelessness. It can also cause stress, anxiety and depression. The good news is that there are many ways to help someone with a gambling problem, including therapy, self-help, support groups and inpatient treatment programmes.

The first step is to recognise that there is a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if the person has lost a lot of money or strained or broken relationships as a result of their gambling. The next step is to seek professional help.

If you think your gambling is causing problems, it’s important to talk about it with somebody you trust who won’t judge you – this could be a friend, family member or professional counsellor. Consider setting some goals for yourself to reduce your gambling or stop it altogether, and find other healthy ways to relax and socialise, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up a new hobby or practicing relaxation techniques.

Getting help for a gambling problem can also involve family and relationship counselling, which is often provided alongside behavioural therapy. This can include cognitive-behaviour therapy, where the person learns to challenge their irrational beliefs about gambling, such as thinking that they are due for a big win after a string of losses or that a near miss (such as two out of three cherries on a slot machine) signals an imminent success.

Another option is to join a gambling support group, which can provide an environment for people with the same issues to meet and offer mutual support. Some of these support groups are run by organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous, while others are self-support groups where members help each other.

It’s also a good idea to set up an account with a credit union or bank that provides low-interest loans and other financial services to those struggling with debt, as this can help you stay on track with your budget and keep you from accumulating more debt. You should also avoid using credit cards and other high-interest finance options, and limit your visits to casinos or TABs to once a week or less. It’s also important to learn how to cope when you lapse, which is normal when trying to quit gambling. You can use a lapse as a opportunity to learn how to cope with a craving and try again in the future. You can also seek professional help through an inpatient or residential program, which is suited to those with severe gambling addiction and who require round-the-clock support.