Gambling is when you put something of value at risk in order to predict an outcome – which can be anything from a football game to a scratchcard. It is a popular form of entertainment and many people enjoy it, however, for some it can be an addictive activity that causes serious problems in their lives. It can affect their physical and mental health, their relationships, work performance and study, as well as jeopardise their finances and even lead to debt and homelessness.
The majority of gambling occurs in casinos, although there are also online versions and mobile phone betting apps. These are incredibly accessible and can be easily used by anyone with a smartphone. This accessibility can be a major contributor to the problems caused by gambling. People are more likely to gamble if the activity is close at hand – much like common advice for trying to decrease sugar intake is to clear sweets out of the house, it can be a good idea to move away from gambling venues if possible.
One of the most dangerous things about gambling is that it can cause mood disorders. Depression, anxiety and stress have all been linked to gambling problems and can be made worse by compulsive gambling. It is therefore important to seek help for any underlying mood issues when trying to overcome a problem with gambling.
Another issue is that gambling can make it difficult to manage money, as the excitement of winning can be a distraction from other priorities. It is therefore essential to only ever gamble with disposable income and not use money that you need to pay bills or rent. It is also a good idea to set an amount of money that you are prepared to lose, and only gamble with that. This way you know when you have reached your limit and can stop playing.
It is also worth remembering that gambling can be very time consuming, and it can be easy to lose track of the time. If this is a problem for you, try using an alarm on your phone or an online clock to remind yourself that it is time to leave the casino floor. It is also a good idea to only play when you are feeling upbeat, as negative emotions can make it harder to resist the urge to gamble.
If you are worried about a loved one, it is a good idea to seek help from a therapist or support group. Family therapy can be especially helpful in addressing the problems that problem gambling can create, and marriage, career and credit counseling may also prove useful. You can also find peer support groups for people with gambling addictions, such as Gamblers Anonymous – a 12-step recovery program that is modelled on Alcoholics Anonymous.