Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money or possessions) on an event with an element of chance and the intention to win. It does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law, such as contracts of indemnity or guaranty, and life, health, and accident insurance.
It is estimated that over a trillion dollars is wagered legally each year in the world (the number of illegal gambling activities is likely significantly higher). The majority of the money is staked on lotteries, sports betting, horse and greyhound racing, and other recreational events, but there are also commercial casinos and organized football pools.
Some people can gamble responsibly and have no problem, but for others the behaviour can become problematic, causing harm to their physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study, and leaving them in debt and even in serious trouble with the law. It can also lead to isolation and homelessness. Problem gambling affects not only the person who is affected, but also their family, friends and work colleagues. Trying to overcome a gambling problem is tough and the urges can be very strong. However, recovery is possible if you surround yourself with supportive people, get help from a counsellor or family therapy specialist and find healthier ways to spend your time.
A number of psychological and pharmacological treatments are available to treat pathological gambling. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and group therapies. There are no FDA-approved medications for treating gambling disorders, but some drugs can be used to manage symptoms of depression or anxiety.
While the exact cause of pathological gambling is unknown, some researchers have identified risk factors and environmental influences. These factors may include trauma, exposure to alcohol and drug abuse, and a genetic predisposition. The onset of problem gambling can be as early as adolescence or as late as later adulthood. It is more common in men than women, and can run in families.
The first step in overcoming gambling addiction is admitting you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you have lost a great deal of money and strained or broken relationships in the process. It is important to seek help if you are struggling, and remember that many other people have successfully recovered from gambling addiction and rebuild their lives. To help you take the next step, we can match you with a professional, licensed and vetted therapist who specialises in gambling disorders. This service is free, confidential and available 24/7.