What is Gambling?
Gambling is the wagering of something of value (cash, possessions or personal time) on an uncertain event whose outcome depends on chance or accident. It involves a conscious acceptance of risk and an expectation of gain. It is a form of addiction, but it can also be a fun pastime for some people. For some, however, gambling becomes a problem that affects their family and work life. Compulsive gambling may lead to severe debt and even homelessness. It can be difficult to recognise that you have a problem, but there are a number of ways to get help and support.
Gambling takes place in many forms, from card games and fruit machines to lottery tickets, football accumulators and casino gambling. It can involve a small number of friends and family in a private setting or be organized in large commercial establishments. Some forms of gambling are legal, while others are not. For example, some countries have state-organized or licensed lotteries. Most countries also allow a certain degree of wagering on football and other sports events. Some people are able to control their gambling and stop themselves from experiencing harm, but many people require treatment. Various types of therapy are used to treat gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. Medications are sometimes used to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Many people gamble for a variety of reasons, including the desire to win money and the excitement of the game. People may also play for social rewards or to change their moods. It is possible to become addicted to any type of gambling activity. Some people are more at risk of developing a gambling disorder than others, depending on their age, gender and family history.
Symptoms of gambling disorder include hiding the amount you bet, lying to family and friends, and spending excessive amounts of time and money on gambling. Other signs are avoiding work and social activities, stealing money to fund gambling, and using credit cards to finance it. People with gambling disorder often hide their behavior from loved ones, but they can get help and support from organisations that offer services, advice and counselling to those affected by problem gambling.
The onset of gambling disorder can occur at any age, but it is more common in younger and middle-aged adults. Men are more likely to develop a gambling disorder than women, and the condition tends to run in families. It is not clear what causes it, but stress, poverty and a family history of alcohol or drug abuse are thought to be risk factors. Compulsive gambling can also be triggered by mental illness, especially depression or bipolar disorder. There is no cure for gambling disorder, but treatment can help you regain control of your finances and relationships. In some cases, inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs are available for those who cannot manage their gambling without round-the-clock support. Self-help options include family therapy, psychodynamic therapy, CBT and group counseling.