Gambling is risking something of value (like money or possessions) on an event whose outcome depends at least in part on chance. People gamble on events such as sports games, horse races, lotteries and scratchcards. They may also place bets on the outcomes of political and business elections. Some forms of gambling are illegal. Despite its risks, gambling is a popular pastime that can lead to addiction. If you’re concerned about your own gambling habits or those of a loved one, treatment can help.
Almost everyone has gambled at some point in their lives, whether it was buying lottery tickets or playing a game of poker with friends. But some people develop a gambling disorder that interferes with their life and causes harm. In addition to the emotional and social costs, a gambling disorder can lead to serious financial problems. A comorbid mental health condition such as depression or anxiety can also contribute to gambling disorders.
Compulsive gambling is a progressive illness that can cause a person to lose control of their finances and ruin their relationships. It’s often a secretive disorder, and it can be hard for family members to recognize when their loved ones have a problem. They may downplay or deny the problem, or hide their spending and lying to others. Some people even steal cash or valuables from family and friends to fund their gambling habit.
A study published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases suggests that certain personality traits and coexisting conditions can increase a person’s risk for developing a gambling disorder. The study looked at data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and included a sample of 1,500 people who had at least one gambling disorder diagnosis. It was found that individuals with a history of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder were more likely to have a gambling problem than those without a diagnosis.
There is no single medication to treat gambling disorders, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve any gambling medications. However, several types of psychotherapy can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people learn to identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It is most effective when done with a licensed mental health professional.
Other types of psychotherapy that can help include motivational interviewing, which focuses on identifying a person’s reasons for change and helping them find solutions. Another type of psychotherapy is psychodynamic therapy, which aims to increase self-awareness by exploring unconscious processes.
The best way to manage gambling is to limit how much time and money you spend on it. Make it a rule to only gamble with disposable income, not money you need to pay bills or rent. It’s also important to avoid gambling when you are depressed, upset or in pain. This can influence the quality of your decision-making and increase your chances of making bad decisions. It’s also important to never chase your losses. The more you try to win back your losses, the more likely you are to lose more money.