Whether it’s placing a bet, buying a Lotto ticket or grabbing a quick game of pokies at the local pub, most people gamble at some time or another. However, for some individuals gambling can become a serious problem. If left untreated, a gambling addiction can result in the loss of money, careers and relationships.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 0.1%-1.6% of Americans meet the criteria for pathological gambling (PG). Typically, this condition begins in adolescence or young adulthood and is more common among men than women. It affects more people who play strategic or face-to-face games, such as poker, blackjack or bingo, than those who gamble on machines, such as slot machines or video poker. PG also appears to have a greater impact on those who play these games online.
The most important thing to remember about gambling is that you are always at risk of losing more than you invest. To avoid this, it is a good idea to manage your bankroll carefully, and never wager more than you can afford to lose. In addition, try to avoid gambling when you are feeling emotionally down or tired. Instead, find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques.
Another way to prevent a gambling addiction is to seek help from a therapist. While it can be difficult to admit that you have a problem, counseling is an effective way to help you overcome your addiction. Depending on the severity of your case, you may be offered individual therapy or group support. In more severe cases, you may be placed on medication to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety.
In recent years, a growing number of researchers have embraced longitudinal design in gambling studies. This approach allows for the identification of factors that moderate and exacerbate an individual’s gambling participation and enables the researcher to infer causality. This type of research is critical for the development and refinement of gambling treatments.
While a lapse in gambling control can occur at any time, it is most likely to happen when you are experiencing emotional or financial difficulties. In these situations, it is important to be prepared with a crisis plan and to seek professional assistance. Fortunately, many people have successfully recovered from a gambling addiction and rebuilt their lives. The first step in the process is acknowledging that you have a problem, which can be difficult for those who feel shame or guilt about their behavior. However, it is vital for your mental health and for preserving your relationships. In addition, seeking professional help can help you regain control of your finances and avoid additional harm. If you have a family member with a gambling disorder, it is essential to reach out for help.