Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value (such as money or property) on an event whose outcome depends on chance. It can also be an activity in which someone places a bet without any consideration for the risk, such as scratchcards. Gambling is a common pastime and some people become addicted to it.
Some forms of gambling are illegal in most countries and others are heavily regulated. Most people who gamble do so responsibly and for fun, but for some people compulsive gambling can be a serious problem. In some cases it can affect their health and wellbeing, and their relationships and finances.
Symptoms of a gambling addiction include an increased need to gamble, an increase in the amount of time spent gambling and an inability to control gambling habits. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, it is important to seek help. There are many support groups and treatment programmes available for those with gambling addictions. Some of these are online and telephone based, while others are face-to-face and residential. Some treatments use cognitive behavioural therapy, which is helpful for those with gambling problems because it can change the way you think about betting. It can help you to challenge beliefs such as that certain rituals will bring luck or that you can recover your losses by gambling more.
Other therapies include family therapy and marriage, career or credit counseling, which can help you to deal with the specific issues caused by your gambling addiction. They can also help you to repair your relationships and finances. It is also helpful to seek therapy for any mood disorders that may have led to or been made worse by your gambling, such as depression, stress and substance abuse.
A good rule of thumb is to only ever gamble with money you can afford to lose and never with money you need to save for bills or rent. This will help you to enjoy gambling without feeling that it is a necessity and prevent you from chasing your losses.
In the past, the psychiatric community regarded pathological gambling as more of an impulse-control disorder than an addiction, and it was included under this category along with kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania. But in its latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the American Psychiatric Association has moved pathological gambling into the category of behavioral addictions. This move reflects new understandings of the biology of addiction and has already changed how psychiatrists treat it.