Gambling involves putting something of value at risk, such as money or belongings, on an event with an uncertain outcome. While many people gamble without problem, some develop a gambling disorder that can lead to serious consequences. Whether it’s buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on the horse races or playing video poker, gambling can have harmful effects on health. Understanding the risks of gambling can help prevent or treat problem gambling.
While most adults have gambled at some point, only a small percentage of those who gamble become addicted to it. People with a gambling disorder often experience a combination of risky behaviors, including lying to others and hiding evidence of their gambling. They are also impulsive, have difficulty controlling their spending and often feel shame about their gambling.
Although some people with a gambling disorder may be able to control their behavior with self-help measures, those who are seriously affected should seek professional treatment. Therapists can help them identify and overcome the underlying causes of their problems. They can also teach them healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions, relax and socialize. They can also help them manage their money better and set financial goals.
Most people who develop a gambling disorder have one or more comorbid mental health conditions. These include depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of these conditions can mask or interfere with the symptoms of gambling disorders. It’s important for people who have a gambling disorder to get treatment for their comorbid disorders as well.
The most common comorbid condition associated with gambling is depression. It’s important to recognize and treat depression in people who gamble, because it can lead to increased gambling and worsen their gambling outcomes. People with depression are more likely to lose control of their gambling and end up with larger losses than those without it.
People with depression are also more likely to have a gambling disorder. They are more likely to be delusional and believe that they will win big on a lottery ticket or in a casino. They are also more likely to have a family history of gambling problems.
Almost all forms of gambling are inherently risky and involve some chance or randomness. Even when someone wins, they must realize that there is a possibility of losing, and that they should not treat their winnings as income. It is important to only gamble with disposable income and never with money needed for bills or rent.
It can be difficult to cope with a loved one’s gambling disorder. You might try to convince them to stop gambling by saying, “This is your last chance.” However, you should also consider seeking family therapy and support groups for families such as Gam-Anon. It’s also important to limit their access to credit cards and other sources of money.