Gambling is the risking of something of value (money, property or personal possessions) on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. The gambler hopes that he or she will win and gain something of value, but the outcome can also be a loss. Generally, there are three types of gambling: casino games, sports events and lottery games. However, there are other forms of gambling that may be less obvious. Examples include bingo, card games and playing with collectible game pieces such as marbles or Magic: The Gathering cards.
Problem gambling is a serious mental health condition that causes an individual to engage in risky behavior repeatedly even though the consequences have negative effects on his or her physical and emotional well-being. It interferes with a person’s work, school and social relationships and often leads to financial ruin.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), compulsive gambling is considered a behavioral addiction, similar to substance abuse and other addictive disorders. Those with problem gambling can benefit from counseling, which can help them learn to control their urges and solve the financial, work and family issues caused by the behavior. Counseling may be combined with treatment for an underlying mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, that contributes to the gambling disorder.
Some people have an innate predisposition to become gamblers. In addition, certain environmental and biological factors can increase a person’s risk of developing problem gambling. For example, a person with an inherited genetic disorder such as Huntington’s disease is at higher risk of becoming a compulsive gambler.
In addition, gender and age can play a role in the development of pathological gambling. Statistically, men are more likely to develop a gambling disorder than women, and they typically begin gambling at a younger age.
Those who struggle with a gambling disorder can seek help through inpatient treatment and rehab programs that provide around-the-clock support. These facilities are usually located outside of the home and offer a safe and supportive environment for those who want to break free from their gambling habits. Other treatment options may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches patients to change unhealthy gambling behaviors and replace them with healthy ones. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can also be used to treat a gambling disorder. Some individuals who have a problem with gambling also seek peer support through self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Moreover, many states have gambling helplines and other resources for those who need assistance.