People gamble for many reasons: it can be a fun way to socialise, it can give you an adrenaline rush and it can help with stress or anxiety. However, for some people it becomes a problem. If you are worried about how gambling is affecting your life, seek help. There are support groups, treatment and self-help tips to help you stop.
The definition of gambling is the placing of something of value (money, possessions or time) on an event that is based on chance and offers a potential prize. Gambling can occur anywhere – in casinos, race tracks, at sporting events, online, etc.
Often, when we gamble we are trying to overcome feelings of boredom or unhappiness. For example, people may gamble to relieve boredom by playing video games or going on social media, or they may use gambling as a way to avoid unpleasant emotions like depression or anxiety. However, there are healthier ways to cope with these problems, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
People who have a problem with gambling can be at risk for other problems, too. For example, people with a gambling disorder may experience problems at work or in their relationships. Some also have financial difficulties, which can be made worse by compulsive gambling. People with a gambling problem are at risk for developing mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. They are also more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide.
There are some risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing a gambling disorder, such as family history and genetics. A history of childhood trauma or abuse also increases the risk. Pathological gambling is more common among males than females, and it tends to run in families. It usually starts in adolescence or early adulthood and develops over time. It is more likely to be seen in strategic or “face-to-face” forms of gambling, such as poker or blackjack, than in nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, like slot machines or bingo.
A person who has a gambling problem is more likely to experience depression, which can make it harder to quit gambling. They are also more likely to hide their gambling activity from others and lie about it, which can lead to strained or broken relationships.
The biggest step in overcoming a gambling problem is admitting that you have one. It takes courage to face the issue, especially if it has caused financial hardship and strained or broken relationships. There are a variety of treatments available, such as psychotherapy, family therapy and marriage counseling. There are also support groups for problem gamblers, such as Gam-Anon. Some of these groups offer a 12-step program, which has helped many gamblers break their addiction and rebuild their lives. Some groups also offer credit and money management help. If you are concerned about a loved one’s gambling behavior, talk to them and suggest they get help.