Gambling involves risking money or other valuables on an event that is at least partly determined by chance. In some countries, the term ‘gambling’ is also used to refer to other activities that involve placing bets on random events, such as lotteries or football accumulators.
Regardless of the activity, gambling requires three elements: consideration, risk and a prize. People gamble for a variety of reasons, from the excitement of winning to socialising with friends or escaping boredom and stress. For some, however, gambling can become an addictive disorder and can cause severe problems with their health, finances and relationships.
It is important to understand how gambling works so that you can help a loved one who has a problem. If you find your loved one is repeatedly chasing their losses, or spending more than they can afford to lose, this is a sign that they are unable to control their gambling. This is a sign of a serious gambling problem and they should seek help immediately.
People with gambling disorders often have trouble with impulse control, have poor understanding of the probability of future events or outcomes and use gambling as an escape from unpleasant feelings. In addition, they often have a history of trauma or abuse and may have been exposed to gambling at a young age. The condition can affect men and women of all ages, though it tends to run in families. It is more common in adults, but it can start at any time during a person’s life.
There are many different types of treatment for gambling disorders. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy and family therapy. Some people may be helped by medication such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines. Others find that a combination of these treatments is effective. Ultimately, the best way to treat a gambling disorder is to talk to your doctor about it.
While it’s tempting to blame a loved one for their gambling addiction, remember that they do not choose to gamble and did not make the decision to get addicted. They often do not realise that their behaviour is harmful to themselves and others. Some of the main factors in gambling addiction include: expecting to replicate an early big win, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity and the use of gambling as an escape from unpleasant feelings. There is also a strong link between mental health and gambling problems. If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call 999 or speak to StepChange for free debt advice. This content mentions suicide and suicidal thoughts, so please read carefully and with care. For further support, please visit the Responsible Gambling Council. This organisation is dedicated to promoting better gambling for all by changing the way we think about it and by advocating responsible gambling standards in Canada and internationally. Their website includes information on how to recognise and manage the signs of gambling addiction. They provide information on treatment options, support groups and self-help tips.