Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money, goods, services, or even one’s own life) on an uncertain event with the hope of winning something else of value. While some forms of gambling involve skill, most instances of betting do not, and are considered purely a matter of chance or luck. Gambling is a common leisure activity, and while for some it is harmless fun, for others it can be dangerous to their health and well-being, cause financial ruin and strain relationships.
Problem gamblers often report a history of mood disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research has demonstrated that these conditions may contribute to the development of pathological gambling (PG) in some individuals. PG is a serious gambling disorder that affects between 0.4-1.6% of Americans. PG is a long-term, recurrent pattern of maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that leads to enduring problems with gambling. Typically, the disorder begins in adolescence or young adulthood and is more prevalent in men than women.
It is easy to lose track of time when gambling, especially in a casino without windows or clocks, so it is important to set an alarm and stop when the time comes, no matter how much money you have won or lost. It is also helpful to limit the amount of disposable income that you use for gambling, and only ever bet with money that you can afford to lose. If you are prone to losing track of time, it can be helpful to wear an electronic watch or to bring a small portable digital clock with you when gambling.
The biggest step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem, which can be hard for people to do when they have been gambling for so long and have incurred significant debt or strained relationships as a result of their actions. Seeking counseling can help to address the underlying issues and lay the foundations for repairing those relationships and rebuilding your finances. In addition to individual and group therapy, family therapy and marriage, career and credit counselling can all be useful in tackling this difficult issue. There are also a number of self-help books available, and there is an online service that can match you with a therapist who specializes in gambling addiction within 48 hours. This is a free, anonymous and confidential service.