Gambling is an activity in which you risk something of value (often money) on an event whose outcome depends on chance, such as a casino game or betting on sports events. In some cases, skill can also play a role, but the primary goal is to win money. If you do, you get to keep the winnings; if you lose, you forfeit them. You can gamble online, in casinos and other physical venues, or with friends.
People gamble to have fun, but it can be problematic if you’re addicted. This is why it’s important to address gambling problems as soon as you notice them. There are a variety of treatment options for gambling addiction, including group and individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and inpatient or residential rehab programs. Often, underlying mood disorders such as depression or anxiety trigger gambling and can make it worse. These disorders need to be treated as well to break the cycle of gambling and relapse.
While research on the impacts of gambling has primarily focused on monetary costs or benefits, these calculations ignore non-monetary harms, which can be more difficult to quantify. Social impacts are a result of harms that affect a person in addition to his or her direct family members, as well as the community or society at large. They can include the following:
The best way to protect yourself against a gambling problem is to make sure that you’re only gambling for fun and not out of financial desperation. It’s also a good idea to set spending limits and stick to them. You should also never chase your losses, as this can lead to serious debt and credit problems. Finally, it’s a good idea to stay in contact with friends and family who don’t gamble so that you have a support network in place should you need one.
If you’re worried about a loved one’s gambling habits, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support. There are many resources available for families dealing with gambling issues, such as family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling. Additionally, there are a number of peer support groups that can offer guidance and encouragement, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model used by Alcoholics Anonymous.