Gambling is the wagering of something of value, such as money, on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. It occurs both in casinos and other gambling establishments, as well as online. There are many different types of gambling, including slot machines, poker, bingo, lottery, and even sports betting.
Pathological gambling is an addictive disorder that affects both adults and adolescents. Symptoms include lying to family members and co-workers, spending paychecks on gambling instead of paying bills, and stealing money to fund gambling. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat pathological gambling, but some can help with other symptoms like depression or anxiety. Counseling is often recommended for those with a gambling problem, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can address the irrational beliefs around betting that can lead to problem behaviours. These can include believing you are more likely to win than you really are, thinking certain rituals can bring luck, and chasing losses by gambling more.
Whether you buy a Lotto ticket, bet on the horses or play the pokies, most people gamble at some point in their lives. For most, it’s a form of entertainment or a way to socialise with friends. But it can also be dangerous. If you’re not careful, you can become addicted to gambling and lose a great deal of money in the process.
A gambler’s mindset can be influenced by many factors, such as the way they are feeling, whether they have a mental health issue, and how much they have already won or lost. If you are suffering from any of these issues, speak to your GP or call the Samaritans for free, confidential support.
There are many ways to reduce your risk of gambling addiction, such as strengthening your support network and finding new activities to occupy your time. You could join a book club, sports team, or reading group. Or try volunteering for a cause you care about. You can also find a peer support group for gambling addiction, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step recovery program Alcoholics Anonymous.
You can also make changes to your finances, such as cancelling credit cards, putting someone else in charge of your money, and closing online betting accounts. If you have a gambling problem, it’s important to talk about it with your family and friends. They may not understand the issue, but they will be able to offer you support and advice.
There is a strong link between gambling and thoughts of suicide, so anyone who is having suicidal thoughts should seek urgent medical attention or call 999. Gambling can be a way to distract yourself from your feelings or mask them, but it’s not healthy and you should never gamble to cope with them.