Reduce the Risk of Gambling-Related Problems

Reduce the Risk of Gambling-Related Problems

Taking risks for the potential of winning money or something of value is an age-old pastime that offers excitement and a sense of adventure. However, gambling can also have a negative impact on individuals and communities. It can be harmful to one’s physical and mental health, interfere with relationships, impair performance at work or school, lead to substance abuse and even result in homelessness. The good news is that there are many ways to reduce the risk of gambling-related problems.

Gambling involves taking a chance on an unknown outcome and can be done in several forms, including casino games (e.g., blackjack and roulette), sports gambling, lotteries and horse and dog races. In addition, some people can become addicted to online gaming and social media gambling. It is important to note that no single form of gambling has been proven to be more addictive than the others. However, there is a common theme that many gambling addicts exhibit: impulsivity.

Researchers are looking for new strategies to help people overcome their addictions to gambling and other forms of impulsive behavior. One area of focus is the role of reward systems in impulsive behaviors. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are able to observe how the brain reacts as people perform various gambling tasks. This type of research can provide valuable insight into how a person’s brain processes rewards and emotions, which may ultimately help inform treatment approaches.

Although there is a wide range of risk factors associated with gambling, most experts agree that impulsivity plays a major role in the development of a gambling problem. Specifically, individuals who are impulsive tend to show a greater tendency to engage in behaviors that involve high levels of risk and/or low levels of expected return.

It is important to understand that problem gamblers often experience a “reward deficiency.” This is because, as they continue to lose, their brains begin to expect less and less reward from each bet they place. This can create a vicious cycle, where the individual feels they need to bet more and more to feel the same level of pleasure that they did before their losses began.

There are also a number of psychological therapies that can help people with gambling disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, can teach people to identify and challenge faulty thoughts that contribute to their gambling habits. Motivational interviewing is another approach that helps individuals explore their ambivalence about change and develop a plan for moving forward.

If you or a loved one has a gambling problem, it is important to seek help. There are a variety of resources and support services available, including CAPS. To learn more about how to get help, schedule a screening or stop by during a Let’s Talk session. In addition, students can use AcademicLiveCare to access virtual counseling and psychiatry appointments. This service is free and available to all CU Boulder students, staff and faculty. For more information, visit the AcademicLiveCare website.