Gambling is a behavior in which you stake something of value, such as money or property, on the outcome of a game or event. It can be a fun and social activity, but gambling can also be addictive and cause problems. If you have a gambling problem, get help right away.
Gambling takes place in many places, from casinos and racetracks to video games and Internet sites. People gamble for all sorts of reasons, including to try to win a prize or to pass the time. The most common types of gambling are games of chance, such as lotteries and scratch-off tickets, and card games like poker or blackjack. People who gamble for money or other items often put their lives on hold to play, and they may develop compulsive behaviors as a result.
People who have gambling disorders are more likely to be male, and they usually begin to gamble in adolescence or early adulthood. They may be more likely to experience stress or trauma, such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, and they are more likely to have parents who have gambling disorders. They are also more likely to live in rural areas and be poor.
In some cases, people who have a gambling disorder require treatment to stop gambling or improve their relationships with others. Treatment options include psychotherapy, family therapy and individual counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy are types of psychotherapy that can be helpful for people with gambling disorders. Family and individual therapy can help families learn how to better support a loved one who has a gambling problem.
Changing the way you think about gambling can make it easier to quit. Try to see gambling as a hobby rather than a money-making enterprise. Instead of thinking about how much you can win, focus on the enjoyment and socialization that gambling provides.
Don’t gamble when you’re feeling down or bored. Instead, find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or volunteering for a worthy cause. You can also join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, where you’ll learn from other members who have successfully overcome their addictions.
To help you stay in control, start with a fixed amount of money that you’re willing to lose. Keep the rest of your money elsewhere, such as in the bank, and limit how much you use on credit cards. Be sure to tip dealers and cocktail waitresses; they can make or break your gambling experience.