Whether it’s buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on the horses or using the pokies, gambling involves risking something of value on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. Often, these events have a high prize value and can be very addictive. Gambling is illegal in many countries, but it’s still a popular pastime with millions of people worldwide who participate in it. The global total of money legally wagered is estimated to be around $10 trillion annually (illegal gambling may exceed this figure).
A person’s problem with gambling is usually described as a gambling disorder, or compulsive gambling. It is characterized by preoccupation with gambling, frequent or unsuccessful attempts to control gambling activities, a need to increase wager sizes, and the feeling that a gamble will relieve problems or depressed moods. It also involves a loss of control over gambling, efforts to conceal the extent of gambling activity, and financial jeopardy (e.g., borrowing to finance gambling).
It’s important to recognize that it is not possible to stop gambling if you have an addiction. Instead, you should seek help for the underlying issues that are making you want to gamble. These could include depression, stress, drug or alcohol abuse, and anxiety. Getting treatment for these problems can help you to break free from gambling and lead a happier, healthier life. In addition to seeking help for underlying mood disorders, you should consider family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling, which can be extremely helpful in repairing relationships and finances damaged by problem gambling.