Gambling involves placing a bet on an event with a monetary prize attached. It has long been a popular form of entertainment, especially in the form of casinos and betting shops. However, new technologies and the proliferation of online gambling has blurred traditional boundaries and expanded the range of ways that people can gamble.
Informally, the term ‘gamble’ could mean anything that involves risking money or belongings with an element of chance and the intention of winning something else of value (e.g. ‘I’m going to bet that dress doesn’t fit me’). However, most of the time when it is spoken about in the context of addiction it refers to gambling in one of its more formal forms such as lottery games, casino games or sports betting.
For gambling to occur, three things need to be present: a decision, a risk and a prize. In most cases, the outcome of the gamble is determined by luck or chance. However, in some cases, strategy plays a role. For example, a football coach might gamble against his own team in order to mitigate the financial consequences of a bad season.
Many gambling addictions arise as a result of mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. These conditions can make it difficult to resist the urge to gamble, even if you are aware that it is dangerous. It is important to seek treatment for these issues to give yourself the best chance of recovery.
The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that you have a problem. This can be difficult, particularly if you have lost a lot of money or strained relationships as a result of your habit. However, it is vitally important to take this step if you want to stop gambling and begin to rebuild your life.
It is also a good idea to surround yourself with positive people and to find healthy activities to replace gambling in your life. Try to avoid tempting environments and websites, have someone in charge of your money and close your online betting accounts. It is also a good idea to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Don’t use your rent or phone bill money to gamble, and never chase your losses – this will usually only lead to bigger and more painful losses.
Psychiatrists can offer help and advice on how to overcome a gambling addiction. They may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which examines how you think and feel about gambling. This will look at your beliefs around betting, for example that certain rituals can improve your chances of success and that you can’recover’ any losses by gambling more. Alternatively, they may suggest joining a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a similar format to Alcoholics Anonymous and can provide invaluable help and guidance in regaining control of your life and finances. In severe cases, they may also recommend residential treatment or rehab programs for those who are unable to manage their gambling habits without round-the-clock support.