Gambling is when people risk something of value, like money or possessions, on an event whose outcome is uncertain. They hope to win more than they have risked, whether it’s cash or a physical prize. For some, gambling can become an addiction, and it’s important to know how to recognize it when you or someone you love has a problem. In this article, we’ll explain what gambling is and how it works, and provide some useful tips for playing responsibly and avoiding the dangers of gambling.
Gamble Safe is a free, confidential helpline that provides support and advice to people in the UK who have concerns about their gambling. The service is available 24/7. The call centre is staffed by trained counsellors and volunteers who have experience of gambling problems and are able to offer a listening ear. They can also provide information and advice about local services and support groups.
Some types of gambling include lotteries, scratch cards and instant lottery games, casino games such as poker or baccarat, sports betting (including horse or greyhound racing, football accumulators and elections) and speculating on business or stock markets. It is also possible to gamble online via websites such as Betfair or Ladbrokes.
The most serious form of gambling is pathological gambling, characterized by a preoccupation with gambling and a persistent attempt to get even after losing money. This is defined as a mental health disorder in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which professional therapists use to diagnose psychological problems. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
Identifying problem gambling is essential to seeking help. You can find out if you have a gambling addiction by using self-assessment tools, which are freely available online. A good first step is to remove all credit cards from your wallet or give them to someone else to manage, close online betting accounts and keep only a small amount of cash on you at all times. You can also try to distract yourself by doing a different activity, such as walking the dog or reading a book.
Therapy is a great option for people with compulsive gambling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and replacing them with healthier ones. It can teach you to fight urges and solve financial, work and relationship problems that have been caused by gambling. Therapy can also help you understand the root cause of your gambling problems, such as underlying conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Support for family members of gamblers is also available. Families of problem gamblers can join peer support programs such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step recovery model used by Alcoholics Anonymous. They can also seek individual and family therapy to address specific issues and repair relationships.