Gambling is an activity in which you place something of value, such as money or a prize, on the outcome of a random event, such as a sports game, lottery, casino game or scratchcard. Some forms of gambling are more risky than others, but all have the potential to lead to problems if you become addicted. It’s important to remember that gambling is not a way to make money and should only be done with disposable income.

It’s also important to understand how gambling can impact your brain and mental health. For example, when you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, which can cause you to keep gambling even after you’ve lost money. This can make you believe that you’re more likely to win the next time, even if your odds are very low.

There are many resources available for help with problem gambling, including peer support groups and professional counseling. For instance, the National Problem Gambling Helpline provides phone, text and chat services that connect people to local treatment and support resources. Gamtalk is an online community that provides moderated group support chats for individuals with gambling issues. It’s also helpful to reach out to friends and family for support, as well as join a recovery community, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.

A therapist can help you identify triggers and develop coping skills to avoid gambling, and work on any underlying emotional or relationship issues. They can teach you how to replace your problematic behaviors with healthier ones, such as exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, and practicing relaxation techniques. They can also help you set financial boundaries by teaching you how to budget for entertainment and not letting it take away from your basic needs.

Coping with a loved one’s gambling problems can be challenging. You may find yourself rationalizing their requests to gamble “just this once” or feeling guilty about the role you play in their addiction. To combat these feelings, it’s helpful to reach out for support and seek family therapy or marriage, career and credit counseling.

CU Boulder students, staff and faculty can schedule virtual counseling and psychiatry appointments through AcademicLiveCare. If you’re concerned about your or a loved one’s gambling behavior, contact CAPS for a screening and to get connected with resources and support. You can also attend a Let’s Talk session or use the Virtual Care app to meet with a provider at any time, day or night. This service is free for all CU students. For more information, visit our Virtual Care page. The UCRC’s Student Wellness program is funded by the Office of the Provost and the Center for Research on Addiction. Learn more about how the UCRC’s programs can benefit you.