Gambling is a form of risk-taking that involves placing a bet or stake on an event or game with the hope of winning money or other valuable prizes. While some people enjoy gambling as a leisure activity, it can become a serious addiction that causes financial and personal problems. Gambling can take many forms, from lottery tickets and sports bets to online casinos and video games. This article explores the various aspects of gambling, how it works, and what to do if someone you know has a problem.
Gambling has been a popular pastime for millennia, but the modern globalization of finance and communications has made it easier than ever for people to gamble, both legally and illegally. It is estimated that four out of five people in Western countries gamble. While the vast majority of gamblers are responsible, some people develop a pathological gambling (PG) disorder that is associated with significant emotional, social, and financial problems.
A person is considered to have a gambling disorder if they meet the following criteria:
1. Is preoccupied with thoughts about gambling (e.g., reliving past gambling experiences, thinking about ways to win money, planning future ventures).
2. Spends more time and money on gambling than intended.
3. Is restless and irritable when attempting to reduce or stop gambling.
4. Needs to gamble larger amounts in order to feel the same level of excitement as before.
5. Jeopardizes or has jeopardized a relationship, job, educational opportunity, or financial security to fund gambling.
6. Is secretive about the extent of his or her involvement with gambling.
7. Continues to gamble even when it causes serious problems.
8. Is frequently absent from work or school to gamble.
9. Does not have the money needed to meet household expenses and rely on others for funds to cover costs.
10. Often gambles when feeling depressed or anxious.
While it can be challenging to cope with a loved one’s problem gambling, there are steps you can take to help. You can speak to a counsellor about your concerns by calling the Gamblers Anonymous hotline or attending a meeting in your area. You can also talk to your doctor about your concerns or seek treatment through a gambling clinic or rehab program. Some researchers have found that regular physical activity can decrease the urge to gamble. The CDC also offers support and resources for families of people with a gambling disorder. The national helpline is 1-800-662-HELP. You can also find local resources through state and county helplines or a self-help group for families such as Gamblers Anonymous. These groups are a great source of peer support and can offer guidance in overcoming your gambling problems. In addition to these group meetings, there are several treatment and rehabilitation programs available in the community. Some of these are residential or inpatient and can provide around-the-clock care. Generally, these programs are aimed at people with severe gambling disorders who are unable to manage their symptoms without treatment.