Gambling is a game of chance in which someone risks money, usually for a prize or reward. The bet can take place at a casino, horse race track, online, or in the form of lottery tickets. Often, the outcome of a gambling game depends on how good the bettor is at predicting the results of events. The odds are determined by the betting company – for example, 5/1 or 2/1 on a football match – and you win money if you get it right.
Whether you gamble for fun, or because you are hooked and cannot stop, gambling can have serious consequences for your health, relationships, and finances. It is important to understand the warning signs and symptoms of gambling and seek help if you think that you are having problems.
Risk of Problem Gambling
Most people gamble from time to time. Some may be impulsive or thrill seekers, while others enjoy the challenge of winning large amounts. However, many people who gamble have a problem that is more serious than a minor flutter or a few rounds of cards.
The newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists gambling as an addictive behavior alongside drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances. This includes pathological gambling, which is a serious addiction that involves repeated and problematic use of casino games.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Behavioral patterns associated with problem gambling include needing to gamble increasingly large amounts in order to achieve excitement, restlessness or irritability when trying to cut down or stop gambling, and frequent thoughts about gambling (e.g., reliving past gambling experiences, planning future gambling). These symptoms are severe enough to interfere with an individual’s ability to function in daily life.
Compared to people who have other types of addictions, compulsive gamblers have less control over their gambling and spend more money on it than others. They also have more difficulty quitting gambling and are more likely to relapse.
A person who has a compulsive gambling problem is also more likely to have other addictions like binge drinking or drug abuse. In some cases, these co-occurring conditions are treated along with gambling addiction.
Counseling and therapy are effective treatment options for people who have a gambling problem. These therapies focus on the specific issues that have been created by gambling and can help you work through them and lay a foundation for recovery.
Family counseling can be particularly helpful for problem gamblers and their families. These sessions can address the impact of gambling on the relationship and create a framework for repairing it.
Therapy can also teach people how to deal with unwanted feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. For instance, if you believe that every loss is a signal that you’ll soon win, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you recognize these beliefs and change them.
Getting back on track after a gambling relapse is one of the biggest challenges for recovering addicts. For this reason, it’s crucial to surround yourself with a strong support network, avoid tempting environments and websites, give up control over your finances, and find healthier activities that replace gambling in your life.