Gambling is any activity in which you place something of value on an event that has an element of chance and the potential to produce a prize. You can gamble in a number of ways, including by buying a lottery ticket, playing bingo, betting on the horses or sports events, or using casino games such as poker, blackjack and roulette.
Whether or not you win, gambling can be addictive and can have serious consequences for your family and health. If you think your gambling is a problem, seek help. There are many resources available for help and treatment, including family therapy, marriage, career and credit counseling. These services can help you work through the issues created by your gambling addiction and lay the foundation for a healthier, more productive life.
The risk of developing a gambling disorder increases with age, and the younger a person starts to gamble, the more likely they are to develop a problem. A history of substance abuse also increases a person’s risk for gambling problems. Compulsive gamblers typically have a coexisting mental illness such as anxiety or depression.
People who are influenced by family members or friends with a gambling problem may be at increased risk for developing a problem, too. Compulsive gambling is more common in young people and in middle-aged and older adults. It is more common in men than in women, but women who start gambling earlier in life and continue to gamble longer are at greater risk for developing a gambling disorder than those who begin later in life or only gamble recreationally.
While there is some stigma associated with gambling, it has become much more acceptable and accessible than ever before. It is available in casinos, race tracks, video lotteries, and on the Internet. It is mass-marketed by state governments and private gambling companies as a type of leisure activity. This mass marketing sends the message that gambling is normal and acceptable.
Those who are more prone to gambling addiction are often people who have not been taught healthy coping skills to deal with unpleasant emotions or boredom. They may find relief from their feelings by gambling, but this is only a temporary solution. They need to learn how to cope in healthier ways such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Gambling is a costly behavior that can cost you not only your money, but your family, relationships and job. It can lead to debt, bankruptcy and even criminal activity. Despite these negative consequences, some people find it difficult to admit that they have a gambling problem. These individuals hide their addiction, lie to family and friends, and try to justify it by claiming that it is just a way to have fun. Others are more proactive and take steps to address their gambling addiction by getting professional help. These individuals have a higher rate of success when they engage in treatment programs that are evidence-based and comprehensive.