Social Practice Theory and Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which people place something of value on an uncertain outcome. It can take many forms, from lottery tickets and fruit machines to more sophisticated casino gambling. While some people have no problem with gambling and use it as a way to relax, others are attracted by the thrill of winning big money.

In recent years, gambling has become a recognised health issue and the focus of harm reduction initiatives. However, research and policy approaches are largely framed through psychological models of addiction and individual behaviour, neglecting the wider socio-cultural contexts in which gambling occurs. A social practice theory approach offers the potential to move beyond these limitations, allowing us to see how gambling is embedded in and reinforced by various practices of everyday life.

While a variety of factors can contribute to a person developing a gambling problem, it is mainly caused by compulsive, addictive patterns of thinking and behaving. This can lead to financial loss and strained relationships. The good news is that there are a range of strategies available to help people overcome their gambling problems and live healthier, happier lives.

The first step is admitting you have a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if you have lost a lot of money and ruined your relationships in the process. The second step is finding ways to break the habit. This can be done by limiting the amount of time you spend on gambling activities and by cutting out any sources of temptation, such as keeping a mobile phone in a pocket or having someone else pay for your betting. It is also important to set a budget and stick to it, and to make sure you do not gamble using any money that is intended for essential needs.

Finally, it is essential to seek support. This can be from friends and family, or a specialist organisation such as Gamblers Anonymous. It is helpful to have a “sponsor”, or someone who has successfully recovered from gambling problems, to provide guidance and encouragement.

A key part of any gambling addiction treatment plan is addressing underlying mood disorders, such as depression or stress. If these are not treated, a person can be tempted to use gambling as an escape from their difficulties, and may continue to gamble even when they have run out of money. A therapist can help identify the underlying issues and recommend appropriate treatments. If you are struggling with a gambling addiction, BetterHelp can match you with an experienced therapist. Get started with a free assessment now.