Gambling is the act of betting something of value on an event whose outcome depends at least in part on chance. It does not include bona fide business transactions (such as contracts for purchase at a future date of securities or commodities, contracts of insurance and guaranty, and the sale or transfer of ownership of property). It is common for gambling to be regulated by governments. This is done through taxes, licensing, and restrictions on where and how gambling can take place.
There are many forms of gambling, including lotteries, casino games, sports and horse racing, and online casinos and poker. Whether or not gambling is legal in your jurisdiction, it is important to understand that the activity can be addictive and cause significant financial, social, emotional and family problems.
The most common symptoms of a gambling disorder include: (1) feeling a strong urge to gamble, despite being aware that it is harmful; (2) spending more time and money on gambling than intended; (3) lying to friends or family members about the extent of the problem; (4) experiencing withdrawal or other psychological symptoms when not gambling; (5) spending more than one’s income; and (6) committing illegal acts to finance gambling (for example, theft, embezzlement, forgery). Gambling disorders can also be accompanied by suicidal thoughts, depression and/or anxiety. In addition, people with a gambling disorder often experience relationship difficulties, loss of employment and other career-related losses, and serious debts.
Although it is impossible to completely cure a gambling disorder, there are many different ways to help someone with a gambling problem. Behavioral therapy can help to address the underlying causes and teach coping skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to change negative thought patterns and behaviors, and psychodynamic and family therapies may be helpful in addressing underlying issues related to the person’s history and life experiences.
Aside from treatment, it is important for people with a gambling disorder to realize that they are not alone and to know that they can find support from peers who have overcome the same problems. This is why many people choose to join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a similar model to Alcoholics Anonymous.
To avoid gambling, you can strengthen your support network by spending more time with non-gambling friends and by joining recreational activities that are not gambling-related. You can also learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways, such as exercising, visiting friends who don’t gamble, participating in a hobby or volunteer work, and practicing relaxation techniques. You can also start to budget your gambling, only putting a set amount of money into it and not going beyond that limit. This can be accomplished by locking your credit cards, having someone else be in charge of your money, limiting access to online gaming sites, closing your gambling accounts and only carrying a small amount of cash with you. In addition, you can find a therapist who specializes in treating gambling disorders.