Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves risking something of value, such as money, on an uncertain event with the hope of winning something else of value. It can be as simple as buying lottery tickets or betting on a horse race, and it can range to sophisticated casino gambling for entertainment or profit (if you are skilled). Gambling is an activity that may affect one’s mental, emotional, physical or professional well-being. It can also have a negative impact on society, such as when it leads to bankruptcy or other financial hardships.

There are a variety of treatment options for gambling problems, including individual therapy, group therapy and family counseling. A therapist can help you develop strategies to deal with urges and triggers, set limits for your spending and practice healthy behaviors. A counselor can also teach you techniques to cope with negative emotions, such as depression or stress. You can also learn skills to manage your finances and prevent relapse by putting gambling money into a separate account or removing cards from your wallet that you use for other purposes.

Some people turn to gambling to relieve boredom, stress or anxiety. They might also do it as a way to connect with friends and family, or to socialize in the community. The media often portrays gambling as fun, sexy and glamorous, and it can be an enjoyable diversion. However, some people become dependent on gambling and can’t stop. This is called compulsive gambling or pathological gambling.

People who are addicted to gambling experience a strong urge to gamble even when they have lost money. They also find it difficult to control their spending or limit the amount of time they spend gambling. They may be secretive about their gambling and lie to others about how much they spend or win. They may also “chase” their losses, thinking they are due to hit a jackpot or recover their lost funds. They may also hide their credit card and bank statements to avoid detection.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s gambling addiction, seek help for them. It is important to address any underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, because these can trigger and worsen problem gambling. It is also helpful to talk with other families who have dealt with problem gambling, because they can offer support and resources. You can also find resources online and on the National Council on Problem Gambling Helpline, which provides 24/7 phone, text and live chat services to connect individuals with local mental health providers. You can also visit Gamtalk, which is a free, anonymous peer-based support network for those with gambling concerns.