Gambling is the wagering of something of value (often money) on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance. It is considered an addiction when a person cannot control their gambling behaviors or reaches harmful levels of involvement. Gambling occurs in a variety of settings and involves many different types of games, including casino games like roulette, blackjack, poker, and baccarat, as well as sports betting (e.g., horse racing or football) and state-licensed lotteries. It can also be conducted with materials that have a value but are not money, such as marbles in a marbles game or collectible trading card games such as Magic: The Gathering.
People who have a gambling disorder may find it difficult to stop or control their gambling behavior, and they might engage in risky activities to fund their gambling, jeopardize relationships, job opportunities, or other aspects of their lives, and lie about their gambling habits. Their problems can range from trivial to severe, and they can begin at any age, although it is most common in adolescence or young adulthood and among men. It is thought that these disorders tend to run in families and are more likely to affect people with lower socioeconomic status.
Various types of treatment are available for gambling disorders, which include individual and group therapy, family therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful in changing a person’s thoughts and actions related to gambling. CBT can help a person identify and confront the factors that lead to unhealthy gambling behaviors. It can also teach a person to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem, which include losing control over one’s finances, lying to friends and family members about their gambling, or spending more money than you have.
Some people can treat their gambling disorder on their own, but many need professional help. A psychiatrist or psychologist can diagnose a gambling disorder and offer treatments that can include psychotherapy, medication, or other support services. People with a gambling disorder often experience stress and depression, so it is important to take care of their mental health.
The most effective approach is to avoid gambling altogether, but if you can’t do that, learn how to manage the urge to gamble. Practice healthy coping skills, such as exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, or practicing relaxation techniques. In addition, be sure to get enough sleep and eat a balanced diet. Finally, don’t make alcohol or drugs a way to cope with your urges. Using these substances can actually increase your risk of gambling problems. For those who continue to struggle, there are several treatment options available, including cognitive behavioral therapy and family counseling. Getting help can be the first step toward a lifetime of recovery. For more information about how to address a gambling disorder, visit the Responsible Gambling Council’s website. They are a non-profit organization that aims to influence positive change and advance responsible gambling standards in Canada and around the world.