Gambling is placing something of value at risk on an event with a chance of winning a prize. This activity may be conducted at casinos, lotteries, games of skill such as horse racing or basketball, online, or in a variety of other settings. Some forms of gambling are legal, while others are illegal or at least not widely regulated.
Many people with gambling disorders do not realise that they have a problem. In addition, their family members often underestimate how serious their addiction is and fail to recognise the harmful effects of gambling.
People may begin to gamble for a variety of reasons, including social or financial reward. Socially, it can be a way to have fun with friends or make social gatherings more interesting. It can also be a way to think about what they would do with a large sum of money (the ‘euphoria’ effect). For some, it may act as a form of escapism or denial.
While there is no cure for gambling disorder, psychotherapy can help address unhealthy emotions and thoughts that can lead to problematic behavior. There are several types of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy. These therapies can teach you healthy coping skills and help you develop more positive ways to deal with stress. Medications are not commonly used to treat gambling disorders, but some medications may help with co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety.
If you are concerned that you have a gambling problem, seek help immediately. Do not wait until you have lost significant amounts of money or strained relationships. There are a number of organisations that can provide help and advice. Seek support from family and friends and consider joining a peer group, such as Gamblers Anonymous.