Gambling involves risking something of value on a random event for the chance to win something else of value. It can be done legally or illegally, and is practiced in casinos, lotteries, online, or in private settings. It can include skillful strategies for improving the odds of winning, but in general gambling is considered a game of chance, with a high level of risk and uncertainty.
People gamble for many reasons: the thrill of the possibility of winning, socialising with friends, escaping stress or worries, or to help them manage financial problems. But for some, gambling can become out of control and cause harm. If you’re finding that your gambling is causing you or others distress, it’s important to get help. You can seek treatment, attend support groups, or try self-help tips.
Until recently, the psychiatric community didn’t treat gambling addiction like other impulse control disorders, such as kleptomania (stealing), pyromania (burning), and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). In what has been widely praised as a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association recently moved pathological gambling into the Addictions chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
Several treatments have been developed for people with gambling disorders, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches you to challenge your irrational beliefs. You can also take steps to prevent relapse by getting rid of credit cards, putting someone else in charge of your money, closing online betting accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on you at all times. Inpatient and residential treatment programs are available for those with severe gambling disorders who may need round-the-clock support.