Gambling is an activity in which you bet something of value, such as money, on an uncertain outcome. Social gambling can take many forms, from playing card or board games for small amounts of money to participating in a friendly sports betting pool to buying lottery tickets with coworkers. Professional gamblers make their living from gambling and often have a deep understanding of the games they play, which allows them to use strategy and skill to win consistently over the long term.
Problem gambling affects the lives of millions of Americans. It can ruin relationships and cause serious financial problems. People who suffer from compulsive gambling are often unable to control their urges, and may have difficulty separating themselves from the excitement of winning big. Despite these difficulties, more effective treatments are available today than ever before, and many people are successfully treated for gambling disorders.
A number of different factors can contribute to gambling addiction. Some of these are personal, such as the experience of loss or depression. Other factors include genetics, family history, and environmental factors. People who have a family history of gambling addiction are more likely to develop it themselves. They are also more likely to be addicted to other substances, such as alcohol and tobacco.
In the past, the psychiatric community has viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an impulse-control disorder. In the 1980s, however, as it updated the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling into the category of impulse-control disorders alongside kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania (hair-pulling).
Treatment for pathological gambling focuses on addressing the underlying conditions that contribute to gambling behavior. There are a variety of integrated approaches that have been developed and tested, but they have shown varying degrees of effectiveness. This is in part because of differences in underlying conceptualizations of pathological gambling, which can lead to competing theories of its etiology.
The best way to break the habit of gambling is to change your environment. This can include avoiding triggers such as taking an alternate route to work if it passes a casino, reducing the amount of credit cards and nonessential cash you carry with you, and finding new recreational activities or hobbies that generate endorphins. It can also be helpful to talk about your issue with a friend or family member who can offer non-judgemental support.
For those who have a serious problem, intensive outpatient programs and day treatment sessions are options. These are more structured than one-on-one therapy, but they are less restrictive than residential facilities. They are especially useful for individuals who need ongoing support but do not require 24-hour care. The goal of these programs is to teach coping skills and help you reclaim your life from the grips of gambling. You will be given the tools and support you need to change your behaviour, while learning how to manage your gambling going forward.