Gambling is the wagering of something of value (a bet) on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance. The risk is backed by a promise of winning something else of value (the prize). Gambling does not include bona fide business transactions such as buying or selling stocks and bonds, contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.
Compulsive gambling is a mental health disorder characterized by impulsivity, difficulty controlling urges and impaired judgment. It can be dangerous to one’s physical and mental health, as well as to relationships and family finances. It can also lead to legal problems, homelessness and even suicide.
While most people associate gambling with casinos and slot machines, there are many forms of gambling. For example, playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch tickets and betting on office pools are all considered gambling. Problem gamblers often spend more time and money on gambling than they do on work or other activities. They may miss important events or responsibilities and lie to their loved ones to hide their gambling.
The first step to overcoming gambling addiction is admitting that you have a problem. It takes courage and strength to do this, especially if you have lost a lot of money or have strained or broken relationships as a result of your gambling. But you don’t have to do it alone. Talking to a counselor and joining a support group will help you understand that you are not alone and that other people have successfully overcome this problem.
If you think you have a gambling problem, seek help immediately. There are a variety of treatment options, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT will help you change your beliefs about gambling and how you behave when you want to bet. It will teach you to recognise when you are using gambling to self-soothe unpleasant emotions and will encourage you to find healthier ways of dealing with these feelings.
Depending on the severity of your gambling problem, you might need residential or inpatient treatment. These programs provide a safe and supportive environment where you can focus on getting better. They are usually staffed by professionals who have experience treating people with gambling disorders. They will work with you to develop a recovery plan and help you break the habit.
In addition to therapy, you can use tools such as putting your credit cards in a lock box, having someone manage your finances or closing online betting accounts. It’s also important to set boundaries and be strict about them. This will help you avoid relapse and prevent your loved one from spending too much money or borrowing more. The biggest challenge of all is overcoming the impulse to gamble. It’s hard to resist, but it’s possible with the right support and encouragement.