Gambling is a form of entertainment where players wager something of value – money or other items – on the outcome of a random event (e.g., a football game, a slot machine or a scratchcard). The gambler hopes to win more than they lose; if they don’t win, they’re out of luck.
While most adults and adolescents who gamble do so without problems, a subset develop gambling disorder, defined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a recurrent pattern of gambling behavior that causes significant distress or impairment. Gambling disorder is a new behavioral addiction in the DSM-5 and is related to substance-related disorders in terms of clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity and treatment.
It’s possible to overcome problem gambling, despite the fact that it can cause severe financial and emotional harm. The first step is admitting that you have a problem, which can be incredibly difficult, especially for people who’ve lost large sums of money or have strained or broken relationships as a result of their gambling habit. It’s also important to seek support from friends and family, and join a self-help group for gambling issues such as Gamblers Anonymous.
One of the biggest factors in overcoming problem gambling is bankroll management – only ever gamble with disposable income, and never with money that’s needed to pay bills or rent. It’s also a good idea to set money and time limits in advance, and to stick to them at all times. It’s also a good idea not to chase your losses, as this will usually lead to bigger and bigger losses.
Another important aspect of bankroll management is staying away from games that you don’t understand. This is because the house edge, or the amount of money that the casino makes on each bet, will be higher on these games. It’s better to stick with games that you do understand, such as slots and roulette.
If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, it’s important to speak to a mental health professional as soon as possible. Depending on your specific needs, there are a number of different strategies and treatments that can help you break the gambling habit. Some treatments include individual and group therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and hypnosis, and inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs.
It’s also a good idea to try and find ways to replace your unhealthy habits with healthy ones. This could involve joining a club or activity that you enjoy, such as a book club or sports team. You could also start exercising, as some research has shown that physical activity can help relieve symptoms of a gambling disorder. You could also consider seeking family or marriage counseling, as well as credit and career counseling. Family therapy can help you work through the specific issues caused by your gambling addiction, and lay the foundation for a healthier future.