Gambling is an activity in which people risk something of value, such as money or a physical prize, on an event whose outcome is uncertain. The gambler hopes to win more than they have risked, which can be done by placing a bet, purchasing a ticket, or other means. While gambling can be a harmless pastime for some, it can also lead to addiction and other problems. Gambling is often seen in movies and TV shows, which may cause some people to think that it is a safe and fun activity. However, it is important to understand the risks involved before beginning gambling.
A person who is addicted to gambling has a serious problem that can lead to emotional, financial and social problems. Those with this problem often have difficulty stopping or controlling their gambling, even when it causes problems in their daily lives. They may lie to friends and family members about their gambling, hide their activity, or spend large amounts of time gambling. Some have even lost their jobs and a home because of the problem.
People with gambling disorders often experience symptoms such as:
Frequently plays games of chance, especially slot machines or video lottery terminals;
Continues to gamble despite adverse consequences;
Does not stop when they lose money or are close to breaking even;
Defines gambling as a coping mechanism for feelings of anxiety, depression or loneliness;
Is restless and easily bored, especially when not engaged in a gambling activity;
Often experiences cravings for gambling;
Uses credit cards to fund gambling, and is unwilling to limit the amount spent on gambling;
Has lied to family members or therapist about the extent of his or her involvement with gambling;
Begins to feel that the only way to deal with stress, problems, negative emotions or boredom is through gambling;
Believes that he or she has developed special skills that will enable him or her to overcome their difficulties and win;
Has made repeated attempts to control the gambling habit but has failed.
If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, it is important to seek treatment. Counseling can help you learn how to manage your gambling and think about your life in a more positive way. It can also help you work through issues that have contributed to the problem, such as depression or anxiety.
Support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, are also helpful for many people who have trouble with gambling. These support groups are based on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and offer guidance to those who need it. You can also find a therapist who specializes in addictions or gambling disorder. Many states have hotlines and other assistance for those with gambling disorders.