Gambling is when you risk something of value – such as money, items or your time – to predict the outcome of a game with an element of chance. If you predict correctly, you win the money or item you gambled. If you lose, you forfeit the money or item. Gambling can take many forms, from games of chance such as bingo or scratchcards to betting on football accumulators or elections. It can also include speculating on business, stocks or insurance.
A person may start gambling because they enjoy the thrill and excitement of it. Or, it might be a way to relieve unpleasant emotions such as loneliness or boredom or as a way to socialize with friends. However, if you find yourself gambling for any of these reasons it’s important to know that it’s not really a good idea.
Gambling can lead to serious problems. In some cases, people develop a pathological gambling disorder. This means they cannot control their gambling and find it difficult to stop. This can have a major negative impact on their lives and health, leading to family, work or financial problems. It is also common for someone with a gambling problem to lie to others about how much they are spending or even hide their gambling activity from their family and friends.
Unlike other addictions, gambling does not have a specific pharmacological treatment. However, it is often treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This involves looking at the beliefs and behaviours that lead to gambling, for example, the belief that you are more likely to win than you actually are or the belief that certain rituals can bring you luck. It can also help you learn healthier ways to cope with unpleasant feelings such as stress or boredom, which do not involve gambling.
The risk of developing a gambling disorder increases with age. Compulsive gambling is more common in adults, but it can affect adolescents as well. It is also more common in men than women.
If you think you have a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. There are many self-help resources available online, including online courses, support groups and face-to-face counselling services. These can be a great starting point for anyone who is struggling with gambling or wants to make changes. If your gambling is causing serious harm, there are inpatient or residential rehab and treatment programs that can help. These programs provide round-the-clock support and offer a range of therapies such as CBT, group therapy and family therapy. They can also help you re-establish your relationship with your family and rebuild your finances. For further information on the different options available to you, visit our page on finding treatment.