Gambling is an activity where someone risks money or things of value for the chance to win something. It can be a simple game of chance or something more complicated like a lottery or a casino. Depending on the way you gamble it may be easy to become addicted and unable to control your behaviour.
There are a number of signs that you or a loved one could have a gambling problem and it is important to know how to recognise them. If you see these signs and you or a loved one have started to gamble more than usual it is important to seek help.
The term ‘problem gambling’ is used in different ways by the research community, and it refers to a range of difficulties from those who fall short of the diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling to individuals whose gambling behavior compromises, disrupts or damages their personal, family or vocational pursuits.
People who are labelled as having a gambling problem can often be diagnosed with an impulse disorder and the condition can lead to severe negative effects on their relationships, career and finances. It is a highly addictive behaviour, so it is important to treat the problem as soon as possible.
Understanding the difference between gambling and addiction can be tricky as there are many different definitions that vary across sectors, however a general description is that gambling is an activity where you risk something of value for the chance to win something, or more money than you risked.
Some of the common types of gambling include: casinos, lottery, poker and online casinos. It is estimated that around four in five adults gamble at some point in their lives and it is increasingly more common to gamble on the internet and mobile devices.
Increasingly, people are able to place bets online and by phone or even on the move and in remote areas. The legal age for betting on sports and other activities varies between countries, but it is usually between 18 and 21 years old.
Gambling can be a great source of fun for some and it can also be used as a form of self-therapy to help relieve unpleasant feelings. It is not the only way to do this, but it is a very common one and there are a lot of healthier and more effective ways to get rid of your stress or relieve boredom.
You can learn to manage your emotions and relive them in more positive ways, so that you don’t need to turn to gambling as an escape. You can do this by finding a different hobby, taking up a new exercise or relaxing technique, spending time with friends and family who don’t gamble and by trying to find alternative forms of entertainment such as watching television, reading or playing a sport.
When a gambling problem is not treated it can lead to a wide range of problems, such as relationship break downs, financial ruin, deteriorating physical health and a poor quality of life. Having a support network of family, friends and work colleagues can be key to recovery, as it can provide encouragement, advice and morale.