Gambling Addiction – How to Stop the Harm

Gambling Addiction – How to Stop the Harm


Gambling is when you risk something of value such as money or sentimental items, to predict the outcome of a game involving chance. It can be done legally in casinos and popular settings or illegally on the street and in people’s homes. If you make a correct prediction you win money, however if you lose it’s possible to end up owing a lot more than you gambled with. Sadly, gambling can cause harm to the person who does it and to their loved ones too.

It is important to balance gambling with other activities, especially when it is costing more than you can afford to lose. If gambling becomes the sole focus of your life it can lead to financial problems and can also be damaging to your relationships.

The first step to stopping the harm is to talk about it with someone. It can be difficult to open up but talking is the best way to get help and change your situation. You can get help from friends, family, or a professional counsellor. The Better Health Channel has a free, confidential telephone counselling service. It’s available 24/7. You can also seek assistance from a gambling helpline or attend a support group for families such as Gam-Anon.

Another effective treatment option is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT for gambling addiction focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts such as rationalizations and false beliefs. It can teach you skills to resist gambling urges and resolve financial, work and relationship problems caused by your gambling addiction.

Many studies of gambling are cross sectional, looking at groups of people at a particular time, rather than following individuals over time. This can make it hard to know what causes changes in gambling behaviour. Longitudinal studies are much more useful but they can be expensive and difficult to conduct.

A good strategy to help manage your gambling is to set a budget and stick to it. Ensure that you don’t spend more than you can afford to lose and that you don’t use credit. It is also important not to chase losses. The more you try to win back what you’ve lost the more likely you are to lose even more. If you have a bad run it’s a good idea to stop and take a break from gambling for a while.

Lastly, remember that gambling is not a profitable way to make money. It is a form of entertainment and should be treated as such. You can find more information about gambling and how to help someone else with a gambling problem on our fact sheet.