Gambling is risking something of value on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance. Typically, a gambler hopes to win and receive something of value in return. Examples of gambling include placing a bet on the winner of a football game or buying lottery or scratch-off tickets. Other forms of gambling may be found in casinos, race tracks, and even online. While some people think of gambling as a vice, it can be a fun and social activity for many people when done in moderation.
People with a gambling problem often try to cope by covering up their behaviors and lying to those closest to them. This can lead to strained and broken relationships. Additionally, a person’s environment can influence their gambling habits. For example, living in an area with a lot of casinos can increase someone’s chances of getting into trouble.
Psychiatric and psychological interventions can help people with a gambling disorder break the cycle of addiction. Counseling can help individuals understand gambling, consider alternatives to harmful behaviors, and repair damaged relationships. Inpatient or residential treatment programs are also available for those with severe gambling disorders that require around-the-clock care.
A person may have a gambling addiction when they feel an urge to gamble and can’t stop even when the consequences are negative. Symptoms of a gambling disorder can include:
Having a good support system is key to overcoming any type of addiction, including gambling. It’s important to reach out to friends and family for help, and if that isn’t possible, seek out a peer support group. Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program based on Alcoholics Anonymous, is one such group. It helps people overcome their problem through the power of community. There are other groups, such as those for individuals with eating disorders and coexisting mental health issues, that also offer support and guidance.