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How to Control Your Gambling

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Gambling is placing something of value on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance. The object of the gamble is to win a prize, which may be money or other goods. The term ‘gambling’ is also used to describe other risky activities such as buying lottery tickets, scratch-offs, or betting on sporting events. In addition to the obvious risks involved, gambling can have hidden costs and a variety of psychological and emotional effects that should be considered before making a wager.

The first step in controlling your gambling is recognizing that you have a problem. Gambling is often a symptom of underlying mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It is important to seek medical attention if you have symptoms of these conditions, and to avoid gambling until they are under control.

If you have a friend or family member with a gambling addiction, it is a good idea to get help for both of you. Family therapy and marriage counseling can help you work through the issues that are causing the problem and lay the foundation for healthy relationships in the future. Inpatient or residential treatment programs are available for those with severe gambling problems who require round-the-clock care.

It is essential to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose, and to never use money needed for things like rent or utilities. It is also a good idea to set time limits for yourself when gambling, and to stop when you reach those limits. Also, never try to ‘chase your losses’ by putting more money in in an attempt to recoup previous losses; this is known as the “gambler’s fallacy.” It is almost always impossible to win back lost money, and the more you chase your losses, the bigger they will become.

There are a few simple steps that you can take to reduce your gambling problems. The first is to make a decision not to gamble. If you feel the urge to gamble, postpone the action for five minutes, fifteen minutes, or an hour. During this time, the urge may pass or become weaker. Also, be sure to distract yourself with other activities, such as exercising, watching a movie, or practicing a hobby.

Another thing you can do to prevent gambling addiction is to keep track of your spending and to only gamble with disposable income. This includes money you have left over after paying your bills and expenses. Do not spend money that you need to cover expenses such as rent or food. Finally, it is important to avoid gambling when you are depressed or upset.

In the past, psychiatric professionals viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction. However, in the 1980s, while updating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association officially classified pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder along with kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania (hair pulling). The change in DSM classification has led many people to believe that compulsive gambling is becoming more of an addiction.

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