How to Make Sense of Gambling


If you know someone who suffers from gambling addiction, it may be hard to understand what motivates them to keep playing, despite the harm to their lives and those around them. In my work in problem gambling research and treatment, I’ve discovered some common features that help make sense of this behaviour.

Gambling is betting something of value on the outcome of an uncertain event. This could be a football match, a scratchcard or a lottery draw. People gamble for a variety of reasons, including social or financial gain. They also do it for entertainment or a rush or “high”. It is thought that a person can move from social or recreational gambling into pathological gambling and then back again to a lower level of behavior.

The most common cause of gambling problems is a lack of focus, or what is called “attentional deficit”. This can result in the person spending more money than they have, or taking out loans or credit cards to fund their gambling habit. The person may also develop superstitious rituals or beliefs about how to improve their chances of winning, or how to recover from a loss.

Some of the most effective treatments for gambling disorders include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic therapy. These therapies look at the unconscious processes that influence a person’s behaviour, and can help them to increase their self-awareness. They can also teach people coping skills to deal with triggers and avoid relapse.

In addition to CBT, some of the most common therapies for gambling disorder include family and group therapy. These types of therapy can help build support networks for those affected, and can reduce the stigma associated with this condition. They can also help a person reconnect with their family and friends, who may have been negatively impacted by their gambling.

While it is difficult to predict the likelihood of winning a game, people can learn how to manage their risk and make better decisions when gambling. It is important to only use disposable income to gamble and not money that is needed for daily expenses such as rent, food or utilities. It is also helpful to set a budget for gambling, and only play for a short amount of time. This will help people stay focused and prevent them from putting too much pressure on themselves to win.

It is also a good idea to play with friends, this will make the experience more fun and allow you to compare notes on strategies. In addition, you should practice before you play with real money so that you can perfect your strategy and improve your skill. It is also a good idea to only gamble with money that you have set aside for this purpose and not to spend your emergency savings. This will ensure that you don’t get into debt and find yourself in a sticky situation. Lastly, it is also a good idea to have a backup plan for when you lose.