How to Help Someone With a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is when people risk money or something of value in a game where the outcome depends on chance. This includes scratchcards, fruit machines, betting with friends and online casino games. People can be addicted to gambling. Problem gamblers can experience financial difficulties, poor educational or employment outcomes and problems in their relationships. There are also other serious consequences. This article explains what gambling is, why it can be harmful and how to help someone with a gambling disorder.

When people gamble, their brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine makes them feel pleasure and reward, which can trigger addiction. It’s important to find ways to get these rewards in healthy ways, such as spending time with family, exercising, eating a nutritious diet and sleeping well. People who struggle with gambling may be at higher risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It’s important to seek treatment for these conditions at the same time as addressing unhealthy gambling behaviors.

Some people find that keeping a journal or using a smartphone app to record their thoughts and feelings during a gambling session is helpful. It can be used to identify triggers and develop a plan to avoid them or reduce exposure to them. It’s also a good idea to connect with others who are struggling with gambling, especially in an online forum. It’s also worth checking your state’s self-exclusion program, which allows you to ban yourself from casinos and other venues.