Gambling is the risking of money or something of value (such as a car, house or job) on an event that involves luck or chance. It is also an activity that can become highly addictive. If you have a problem with gambling, it can affect your life in many ways.
There are many different types of gambling. It can involve betting on sporting events, playing the pokies or lotto, or even making bets with friends. In general, the more you gamble, the more money you can potentially lose. Social gambling is usually a casual form of the activity and can include card games, board games, buying lottery tickets or sports bets with friends. Professional gambling is done for a living and involves a high level of skill and strategy.
Regardless of how it is done, gambling is a dangerous activity and has serious consequences for those who get involved. Problem gambling is associated with poor mental health and can be very difficult to treat. Approximately 4% of people are considered to have pathological gambling disorder and it is often associated with substance abuse disorders. Several studies have found that people who suffer from pathological gambling are at higher risk of developing depression, anxiety and other psychological problems.
A person can be diagnosed with a gambling disorder if they meet at least four of the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This includes having an intense desire to gamble, lying to family members or therapists about their gambling habits, and being restless or irritable when trying to cut down on or stop gambling. Those with a gambling disorder may also spend more than they can afford and use money that is meant for something else, like paying bills or putting food on the table.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for gambling disorders, but there are some proven approaches that can help. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy can help individuals learn to recognize and challenge their thoughts and beliefs about gambling. Changing these can help reduce the urge to gamble and improve self-control. Longitudinal research can also help understand how and why people develop and maintain problematic gambling behaviours.
If you have a friend or family member who has a gambling problem, try to be supportive. It can be very hard to watch someone you care about struggle with a problem. However, don’t let their addiction control your relationship. Seek support yourself and be sure to set financial boundaries in managing your own money. This can help prevent relapse and protect your own wellbeing. Consider setting an amount of disposable income that you will allocate to gambling and when this is spent, stop. This will help you avoid chasing your losses, a common mistake that can lead to Bet Regret, the feeling of regret after you have lost money. It’s also important to fill your time with other activities. It’s easy to get caught up in gambling, especially when you’re in a casino with free cocktails and no clocks to look at.