Gambling is the placing of something of value on an event that has an uncertain outcome. Whether it’s purchasing a lotto ticket, betting on the horses or sporting events or using the pokies (pokies are electronic gambling machines in Australia), there are a number of impacts associated with gambling. These impacts are negative and positive and can be at a personal, interpersonal or community/society level.
People who gamble can become dependent on the excitement and thrill of winning or losing money, which can result in addiction. In many cases, it is difficult for people to recognize that they have a problem and seek help. This is because there are cultural influences that may prevent someone from seeking help, such as a belief that gambling is an acceptable pastime or a way to pass the time. In addition, some people have a genetic predisposition for thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity, which can make them more susceptible to gambling addiction.
There are many ways to get help for a gambling addiction, including inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. In these programs, a person stays in a safe environment while he or she receives round-the-clock care and support. However, there are also other treatment options that can be effective in helping a person overcome their addiction, such as individual and family counseling. Counseling can help a person understand the root cause of their addiction and develop strategies to deal with it. In addition, counseling can teach a person healthy coping skills and provide tools to help him or her stop engaging in risky behaviors.
Studies show that many individuals who engage in gambling do so because of a lack of satisfying leisure activities, financial problems, relationship difficulties, depression or other mental health issues. Gambling can also be used to escape unpleasant emotions or boredom and can be a social activity that provides opportunities for interaction with others.
Individuals who are diagnosed with pathological gambling (PG) have persistent and recurrent patterns of maladaptive gambling behaviors. Typically, these behaviors start in adolescence or young adulthood and persist for years. PG is more common in males and those who participate in strategic or “face-to-face” forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker. Those with PG are also more likely to lie to friends, family members or therapists and to commit illegal acts in order to finance their gambling habits.
To reduce the likelihood of developing a gambling problem, try to avoid impulsive behaviors and develop alternative ways of relieving boredom or stress. For example, instead of gambling, try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, joining a book club or sports team, or trying new hobbies. Also, consider getting help for an underlying condition such as depression or anxiety. In addition, it’s important to have a strong support network. For those with serious addictions, there are peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, there are a number of family and marriage therapy services that can be helpful for those struggling with gambling problems.