Gambling involves betting on events with the hope of winning money or other prizes. It can take many forms, from placing a bet on a football match to buying a lottery ticket or playing online poker. When gambling becomes a problem it can affect all aspects of a person’s life, from relationships to finances. Getting help is the best way to overcome a gambling addiction and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.

There are a number of different causes of gambling problems, and each person may have their own unique set of circumstances that lead to the development of a gambling disorder. There are also a number of treatments that can be used, including individual therapy sessions, family and group therapy, and behavioural therapy. For severe cases, inpatient or residential treatment programs may be necessary.

Generally, the more a person gambles and the more they lose, the more harm they are likely to experience. The most common harms from gambling include emotional and financial. However, there are other harms as well, such as social and occupational disruptions. In addition, there are potential physical health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

Many people struggle to recognise when their gambling is becoming a problem. This can be exacerbated by the fact that gambling is often considered to be a fun and harmless pastime in society, making it difficult to accept that it could have a harmful impact. In addition, some people have a predisposition to gamble due to genetic or biological factors, such as an underactive brain reward system or a tendency towards thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity.

A key aspect of addressing gambling related harm is to develop a definition and conceptualisation of harm. This should be broad in scope, incorporating all forms of gambling related harm and across three levels: the person who gambles, affected others and the broader community.

There are several ways to prevent gambling from becoming a problem, such as setting time and money limits and not using credit cards or other electronic payment methods. It is also important to seek help for any underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can contribute to gambling problems and make it harder to stop.

A major challenge is to break the cycle of chasing losses, which can cause someone to spend even more money than they have lost. Changing your thinking can help, as can seeking support from friends and family members. Counselling is another option, which can be particularly helpful for family members of a compulsive gambler. This can provide the opportunity to discuss how gambling has impacted on the relationship, identify issues and work together to find solutions. Other options are to set up financial boundaries, such as removing credit cards from your home, putting someone else in charge of your finances and closing online gambling accounts. It is also important to find other things to do with your time, such as hobbies, sports or volunteering.