Whether it’s buying lotto tickets, playing pokies, betting on horses, sports events or lottery games, gambling involves risking something of value for the chance to win something else of value. It can also be done with items that don’t have monetary value, such as marbles or collectible game pieces (like Magic: The Gathering or Pogs). Regardless of the type of gambling, there are risks and consequences to consider. Some people are addicted to gambling and need treatment. Gambling addiction is a mental health condition called pathological gambling (PG), and it usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood. It’s also common for PG to co-occur with other addictive behaviors, such as substance use disorders and eating disorders.
There are many ways to help someone overcome a gambling addiction. A professional therapist can teach the person healthier emotions, thoughts and behavior. They can also help a person find healthier activities to relieve boredom or stress. In some cases, psychotherapy can be combined with medication to increase the effectiveness of treatment.
Research suggests that a combination of factors contributes to the development of gambling disorder, including genetics and adverse childhood experiences. However, research is ongoing to determine which factors are most influential. Symptoms of a gambling disorder include compulsive urges to gamble, spending large amounts of time gambling and hiding evidence of their gambling.
The negative effects of gambling can be observed at the personal, interpersonal and community/society level. Those who are addicted to gambling can experience these impacts directly, and they can cause others to suffer. The interpersonal and society/community level external costs are mostly non-monetary in nature, but they can result in a loss of quality of life for the gambler and others.
While the monetary costs of gambling have been well documented, it’s important to understand that the social and emotional effects can be just as serious. In fact, a study found that spouses of problem gamblers reported significantly higher levels of anxiety than did other spouses. In addition, the effects on families and communities can be long-lasting.
If you are concerned that you may have a gambling problem, seek help immediately. There are a number of resources available to help people with gambling problems, including support groups and state-based helplines. Several types of psychotherapy can be used to treat gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy. Psychodynamic therapy, which focuses on unconscious processes that influence a person’s behavior, is also effective for those with gambling disorders. These methods can help a person learn to handle stress and replace unhealthy behaviors with more productive ones, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or taking up new hobbies. It’s also important to avoid chasing losses, as this is likely to lead to larger and larger losses. Lastly, don’t gamble when you’re depressed or upset. This can make it harder to stop. Instead, find other ways to relieve unpleasant feelings or entertain yourself, like reading a book or visiting a museum.