Gambling involves wagering something of value (such as money or items) on an event whose outcome is determined at least partly by chance. In the US, gambling is regulated by state laws, and is a significant economic activity. People gamble for a variety of reasons. Some do it for fun or entertainment; others play to increase their income; and some do it as a way to socialize with friends. Some people can control their gambling behavior, but many people develop problems. These problems can affect their personal lives, work, and relationships.
The term “disordered gambling” encompasses a range of behaviors, from those that put individuals at risk for developing more serious problems to those that meet diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling (PG). The occurrence of PG tends to run in families. It can start in adolescence or young adulthood and may be triggered by trauma or stress. It is more common in men than women and usually begins before age 50.
In addition to the financial aspects of gambling, it can also cause other health problems. Researchers have linked gambling to a number of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. It can also affect people’s relationships, job performance, and quality of life. There are several ways to deal with a problem gambling habit, but the most important thing is to get help.
Getting professional help can improve your chances of recovering from gambling disorder and reestablishing healthy relationships with family members and friends. Several types of psychotherapy are effective for treating gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and family and marriage counseling. In addition, group therapy can be helpful for some people.
Some people who have gambling disorders can stop gambling on their own, but most will need help. If you are concerned that you or a loved one has a gambling problem, seek treatment from a mental health professional. You can find a psychologist or clinical social worker by searching online.
Those who gamble may do it as a way to self-soothe unpleasant feelings, relieve boredom, or socialize with friends. However, they may not realize that there are healthier ways to do these things. To avoid compulsive gambling, try spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up a new hobby, or exercising. You can also practice relaxation techniques to reduce your stress. If you are still feeling anxious or bored, consider talking with a counselor. It’s also a good idea to find out about the local resources available for gambling disorders. These may include support groups, gambling helplines, and other types of assistance.